American Horror Story: Freak Show S4 E1

The fourth series of American Horror Story is here and it could be the best one yet…

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Jupiter, south Florida, 1952. After a milkman discovers the corpse of an old woman inside her own home he continues to snoop around until he comes across conjoined twins Bette and Dot Tattler (Sarah Paulson). After the twins are taken to the local hospital because of a stab wound to the chest they are soon visited by Elsa Mars (Jessica Lange), who happens to be the owner of a travelling freak show currently set up just outside town, she convinces the twins to join her show even though Bette and Dot seem to have conflicting opinions about the idea.

Meanwhile a young couple are getting hot and heavy in the back fields of Jupiter when they are attacked by Twisty the clown (John Carroll Lynch), the ultimate epitome of a scary clown, who brutally slays the young man before kidnapping the girl and locking her up in his static school-bus of horrors deep in the woods, soon to be joined by another boy he kidnaps after killing his parents.

The murders send the small town into a panic and suspicion quickly falls upon the travelling freak show. When a local police detective shows up at the camp to throw his weight around and arrest Bette and Dot Tattler for the murder of their mother, he goes one step too far when he starts to belittle the freaks, in a moment of rage Jimmy (Evan Peters) slices the cop’s throat causing the rest of the freaks to panic until he manages to rally them together and help him dispose of the body.

And so ends the first episode.

3-new-spots-for-american-horror-story-freak-showThis series continues with the stellar cast which we have grown accustomed to throughout American Horror Story, returning cast include Jessica Lange, Kathy Bates, Evan Peters, Sarah Paulson, Angela Bassett, Emma Roberts and more. New cast members include John Carroll Lynch and Michael Chiklis and a host of actual freaks. While most of the freaks are just ‘normal’ actors in brilliant make-up there are a few real and famous freaks including Jyoti Amge, the legitimate smallest woman in the world (and quite possible the cutest too), Mat Fraser, English artist and musician who was born with phocomelia in both arms, Rosemary Siggins, who is missing the lower half of her body (similar to that of legendary freak Johnny Eck). Naomi Grossman reprises her role of Pepper (reminissant of Schlitzie, another famous freak who appeared in cult classic movie Freaks alongside Johnny Eck), the only character to reappear in the series. Pepper’s role in Freak Show will tell the story of what happened to her before she appeared in the second series, Asylum.

Twisty the clown is absolutely terrifying, he is fast becoming my favorite character, while he is savagely bloody in his psychotic killings, he also seems to have a genuine childish nature within him but it’s hard to tell since he never speaks. At first I thought his mask across his face was just an awesome prop to look intimidating, but in the second episode we catch a split second of the hideousness which hides behind it, not enough to properly see but enough to leave you very curious. Although he has been lingering around town and the freak camp he rarely gets noticed by anyone making me wonder what will happen when he crosses paths with certain freaks.american-horror-story-freak-show-opening-title-sequence-video

Freak Show manages to carry on that specific dark style which we have gotten used to throughout the first three series, though this series seems to have a lot more colour to it, which makes it all the more creepy because although bright sets and a lot more outdoor scenes take place this time round the constant sight of these human oddities is unsettling in itself and while the freaks seem good natured and generally harmless there is a constant feeling of impending doom.

I’ve always had a certain attraction to human oddities and the naturally bizarre going back as far as when my cousin fascinated  me by showing me his webbed toes when we were both seven. Films such as Tod Browing’s Freaks (1932) and David Lynch’s The Elephant Man (1980) are still among my favourites so American Horror Story: Freak Show is right up my alley.

With dark, mysterious storylines incorporating real carny folklore, wonderfully imagined characters with deep depth portrayed by worthy and accomplished actors, fantastic sets and beautifully shot scenes, great gore along with quality make up and special effects, American Horror Story: Freak Show will not disappoint, one can only wonder at how it will unfold.

Neil Sweetman

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