American Horror Story: Chapter Two – Nurses (Review)

Sarah Paulson as Shelby Miller

Before you can say “squeal like a pig” the second chapter of American Horror Story continues its re-enactment of a new murder house. This one inhabited by deadly nurses and a little ghost girl named Pricilla who wants to kill everyone one.

There are more piggy noises in the night and a giant burning cross with a pig’s head on the top of it and lots of entrails and other bits of dripping meat hanging off the cross strut.  Lee, the former cop and prescription drug addict, has a major meltdown when Flora is taken away by her ex-husband.

Lee’s self destructive streak is so severe she changes her drug of choice to alcohol.

Chapter two follows a horrified, and scared out of her mind Shelby as she runs from the scalped man in the woods. Matt finds her and after a night in the hospital she is allowed home. Not without the local police checking her blood system for hallucinogenics first.

The hillbilly clan were scarce this week. They were accused of much but made no appearances at all.   The pig head wearing man makes a couple of appearances. One of which was  a seat jumper and Lee (Bassett) really sold that scare to the audience.

(On a sidenote, Ms. Bassett could almost tie Ms. Coulson who proved as far back as Serenity that she can work that scream.)

Chapter two introduced the two nurses, one of whom was seen when the couple bought the house. These murderous women liked to play the name game a bit differently. Running a home for the elderly, the nurses murdered patients and spray painted the first letter of their surname on the wall.

Denis O’Hare as the professor “and author” relates their story via a found video tape.  They were never caught, despite murdering a number of helpless patients and the letters MURDE, were a permanent fixture on the wall. 

The word was wallpapered over and after seeing the tape Matt goes and peels off the paper to reveal the word. (If only wallpaper were really that easy to remove, redecorating would be an absolute breeze…)

Lee kidnaps her girl and this time Pricilla lures the youngster outside of the house.  The highlight of the episode was Lee, and Matt and Shelby, finding Flora’s  yellow hoodie way up towards the top of that  very tall tree.

Creepy and chilling is the best way to describe that scene.

Matt watching the two nurses murder an old woman in her hospital bed was the close runner up of best scene. “M” is for Margaret was the topper in the house and the choking bit with the rag was a close third.  Really quite disturbing.

Shelby and her husband confront the bank about selling them a murder house (Ah, first season…) only to find that the institution will do nothing. They can sell the place to the Deliverance gang or stay in the house.

The show is slowly winding up the tension and piling on the creepiness of the place. So far it looks like Lee may be the first “casualty” after the disappearance of Flora. Clearly this poor stressed out woman may just beat Shelby to the “crazy” finish line.

American Horror Story is delivering a pretty good season in terms of being creepily entertaining.  While the show does not contain the originality of prior sessions it is still a crowd pleaser.

One bone of contention, however, has to do with Kathy Bates and her odd accent.  Seems like Ethel the bearded lady may reside in her new character’s body.  Not that it is not interesting, it just feels like a poor fit for the meat clever welding woman. 

American Horror Story ends with  things shifting into high gear. Lee’s kid is missing and things have taken a turn for the worse.

The series airs Wednesdays on FX.


American Horror Story: Season 6 Chapter 1 – This Little Piggy (Review)

AHS teaser logo

Season six of American Horror Story has a different look from its predecessors. ‘Chapter 1’ takes a note from Discovery Channel’s “A Haunting.” Using the familiar recounting formula with recreations to add a bit of drama.  This open has some “piggy” overtones where a little screaming of the pigs signposts a bad times ahead.

It is also a device used by true crime show on both sides of the pond.

The show’s plot is set in the present, there are smart phones and outdoor hot tubs, although it takes place in the most rural of places. A huge house located in the middle of a South Carolina wood.

At the start of American Horror Story  Shelby and Matt recount why they left California and moved back to the east coast.  It takes a moment, even with the “Based on a true story” and “Viewer discretion advised” messages to realize the show’s format change.

Regardless of this shift, things move forward at a cracking pace.  After Matt recovers from surgery, he was assaulted on the streets of LA, the couple bid on a house they stumble across on a picnic.

The nearly derelict building is up for auction and the only competition is a group of Deliverance locals. Matt outbids the hillbilly tribe and this does not go over well.

Shelby has bad feelings about the house and it not overjoyed that it  is now theirs. The yoga instructor channels her inner calm and says nothing to her husband.  They begin to redecorate the place and things begin happening.

The first event is clearly the work of the Deliverance trio. Blood spattered over broken barrels and pig’s squealing in the middle of the night disturbs Shelby and angers Matt.

Matt, a traveling salesman, leaves and Shelby, despite her misgivings settles in. As she enjoys a night-time soak in the hot tub she is attacked.

The police are not helpful.

Matt calls his sister Lee, a former police officer busted off the force for drugs, to come stay with Shelby. Lee and Matt’s wife do not get along.

The two women bicker over Shelby’s wine drinking. Lee is awakened by someone rolling an empty wine bottle into her bedroom. She confronts Shelby and as they argue the former cop hears someone else in the house.

They go to investigate.  They find a video playing on a television in the basement. It shows  someone in a realistic looking pig mask and a man (Denis O’Hare) dying. 

Matt returns home and Shelby attempts to leave. She hits a woman standing in the road, (Kathy Bates holding  a meat cleaver.) and stops her car. She see the woman go into the woods and Shelby follows.

She gets lost.

At one point, she falls and the forest floor appears to be breathing. Shelby gets to her feet only to find she is surrounded by people carrying burning torches.

Murphy has presented a great start to the sixth season of American Horror Story. A disturbing ghost tale with specters  that may or may not be locals harboring a grudge.

There are homages to horror genre favorites  throughout the first episode. The Blair Witch Project being the most apparent, Wrong Turn possibly being another. Although it is a toss up between that 2003 horror film and Deliverance.

There is one jarring moment in the opening episode. When Lee and Shelby head to the basement to investigate the intruder, Shelby asks where Lee’s gun is.  The former police officer responds, “Where it should be, in a locked drawer.”

This one bit of dialogue, after Lee tells Shelby earlier that she is still “packing” despite not having a badge, rings false.  As any gun owner will attest, having a firearm locked up does not help when faced with intruders.

Still, it is the “correct” answer  for anyone who is paranoid about guns in general.

Political statements aside, the season is off to an excellent start.  While fans are still missing Jessica Lange, there are enough favorites to make the show worth watching. The story line, with its “this little piggy” overtones looks very interesting.

American Horror Story airs Wednesdays on FX.


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