Episode three of American Horror Stories was exactly what I expected to see from the show. And I couldn’t be happier.
Chad and Kelly are teenagers, dating in the awful world that is high school. When Kelly doesn’t want to have sex, Chad’s idiot friends tell him to take her to a scary movie. Lucky for him, there’s a special viewing of a film called Rabbit Rabbit at the Starlight Drive-In.
Ah, but this isn’t any normal scary movie. This movie caused four deaths the last time it was shown. The director, Larry Bitterman, served time because of it.
When the kids go to see the show, they don’t watch the beginning because they’re, well, getting cuddly. But all their friends do. And the entire audience starts ripping each other apart.
Okay, a cursed film. That’s been done. It’s been done a lot. But that’s not the point. The point is that it was done well. The acting is great, the dialog is smart and creepy. Most of the characters seem like real people. Most of the special effects were great. I especially appreciated the absolute destruction of the victim’s bodies. Not just because it was gruesome. But because it suggested a level of rage in those affected by the film. It wasn’t just that they were blindly attacking. They wanted to rip another person apart. They wanted to destroy.
There were constant subtle nods to eighties horror flicks. The musical score was reminiscent of Nightmare on Elm Street, which I’m sure was not an accident. At one point we see a little statue of Pennywise the Clown, next to a set of sunglasses and a hat that look like what the Unibombor wore. None of this is accidental. The camera stayed on them for too long for that.
Earlier I mentioned that most of the characters were well done. Here’s the exception. Dee, Kelly’s best friend. I was so thrilled to see a trans teenager, that it was disappointing to see them in the role of the sassy gay best friend. It seemed lazy, and that’s not the normal way AHS handles things like that.
There’s one other thing I didn’t love about this episode. The makeup on the people affected by the film wasn’t great. I mean, it was fine. But it wasn’t particularly original or scary. I think it would have been scarier if just their eyes changed. It also would have been cooler during a reveal later if the eyes reacted. And nothing else.
But these issues weren’t enough to destroy the episode for me. Overall, I think the story was clever. Not in spite of the story being done so many times, but almost because of it. Here we have a story that’s been done before. But the antagonist is a director who’s obsessed with making history. By doing something in a film that’s never been done before. I don’t know if they did this on purpose. But it worked.
This episode was all I wanted from American Horror Stories. It was clever, bloody good fun. I’m hoping to see more of the same next week.
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