American-Horror-Story-HotelTwo weeks ago I wrote about some small screen horror that is presently available on-demand depending on what services you’re subscribed to. Then I got excited by a box of toys so this entry got postponed a week. Even though it’s November 3rd I feel like we’re all still a little in the Halloween spirit and both of the shows we’ll be looking at today are currently happening, so they’re still relevant.

Obviously, the danger of looking at a show that is only a few episodes into its run is that the series can still make or break itself with a strong or weak finish. But I’m willing to take that risk. We’re going to look at American Horror Story: Hotel (the 5th Season) and Scream Queens (the 1st Season). AHS is 4 episodes in at the moment of a 13 episode season and Scream Queens is 6 episodes into what will be a 15 episode run.

It’s a bit of coincidence that both of these shows share creators Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk, but I guess that when you spend so much of your time working on Glee your creative energy starts to go to dark places.

For the record I’ve pretty much avoided any spoilers (other than general discussion of the setting and a single sample of dialogue) for either of these two shows. Let’s go.

American Horror Story: Hotel

So when AHS started up with their initial “Murder House” run, Jon, Sarah and I jumped on board, being big horror fans and excited to see long-form horror and how they were going to pull it off. That first season (like pretty much all seasons of AHS) had its ups and downs. It started very strong, got a little weighed down by adding a new ghost every week towards the middle, then ended strong. It was enough to get us into the concept though, and despite more ups and downs over the course of the next 3 seasons, we have still dutifully watched every subsequent season.

I don’t think there’s been a single “great” season of American Horror Story, but they’ve all been pretty good in their own way. Season 2 (Asylum) was heavy on creepy scariness, but got bogged down by having two timelines, a bunch of killers and just WAY too much going on. Any show where there’s a murdering Santa Claus, the embodiment of Death, actual demons and actual aliens, all of which weren’t even the main focus of the plot, needs to re-focus its priorities. Season 3 (Coven) had some of the best character development, but was pretty light on actually being scary. When the “good guys” also have super powers (being witches) it kind of levels the playing field when they face psycho killers. Season 4 (Freakshow) offered a good balance of character development and creepiness but the whole thing also acted as a tribute/sendoff to (the admittedly great) Jessica Lange, who was a focal point of all four seasons. It also featured characters actually singing covers of popular music that didn’t exist yet in the setting, which was weird as hell. ↓ Read the rest of this entry…