American Horror Story, “Welcome to Briarcliff”: Asylum

Quick Take: American Horror Story, “Welcome to Briarcliff”
"What you put out in the world comes back to you." - Grace

AHS Asylum 

Review: American Horror Story, “Welcome to Briarcliff”
(S0201) If fans of cancelled shows have learned anything, it’s that it only takes one scene, nay, one line to polarize an audience. Though American Horror Story is structured around contained, single-season arcs designed to make the most out of the vast horror genre while always remaining open to new viewers, I’m not quite sure if they’ll be coming back after Asylum. Actually, scratch that – I don’t think they’ll be able to top it.

The miniseries-styled anthology began with the story of a haunted house, sticking to a familiar, but no less comforting mythology of vengeful spirits and the birth of the anti-Christ. With Season Two, we’re brought to the Church-helmed mental institution Briarcliff Manor, home of the infamous serial killer, Bloody Face, and perhaps even more violent secrets.

Present day: the lead singer of Maroon Five and his hot-for-horror wife are plugging their way through their haunted honeymoon, about to christen a restraining chair in the old asylum when they hear a noise. Unfazed by the building’s alleged history, they investigate: he gets his arm ripped off, she meets Bloody Face. But as we flash back to the nineteen sixties, we see that Bloody Face didn’t always run around wearing human flesh before Hannibal made it popular. In fact, he was a pretty well-adjusted gas bar attendant named Kit Walker, played by one of the show’s several returning cast members, Evan Peters.

Then the aliens came.

You did not misread. If ever there was a more polarizing mix of horror elements, please tell me. The inevitable clash between science and faith often tends towards the religious side in the horror genre, supplying a weighted reality ruled by devils and demons. Granted, the threat of incorporeal evil is much more frightening to most people than aliens, (which is why M Night Shyamalan’s Signs is a much better movie if you consider the creatures as demons instead of extraterrestrials), but it’s yet to be presented where these two evils – as above, so below – co-exist.

Being set inside the oppressively religious institution provides ample contrast for the ideologies of the devious brain scientist Dr. Arthur Arden (James Cromwell), the pious but tempted Sister Jude (Jessica Lange in another beautifully sadistic role), and Monsignor Timothy Howard (Joseph Fiennes) who stands above, yet between them as the asylum’s founder. But none of their philosophies could have dreamt that there was more than just heaven and earth.

From Kit’s perspective we see the abduction of the wife he is accused of murdering, and then from Dr. Arden’s we see the electro-organic implant that comes alive when he pulls it out of Kit’s neck, so there doesn’t seem to be much room to wiggle in an argument for the aliens not being real. That being said, there is plenty of story yet to develop, and the first episode of Asylum made it more than clear that anything can happen. Anyone care to wager what Dr Arden’s flesh-eating something is?

By Mark D Curran

About the author

Mark is a freelance writer, student of English and Philosophy, and still has too much time on his hands. If you have any of your own, check out the blog and follow him on Twitter!

http://twitter.com/#!/MarkDCurran

More From Mark D Curran

"The pink stars are falling in lines."
Read More
"It's stuck on 2003." - Michael Bluth
Read More
If the impact of last night’s finale of the Walking Dead was at all diminished by the quality of season premieres it went up against, I’d hate to see how it would have matched up against those same shows’ finales.
Read More
1 Comment
On: Monday, October 22, 2012
TV geek Erin said:

I really liked the first season, but don't know if I can get on board with aliens. I will continue to watch, if just for Evan Peters' story line.

Name:

Email (Will not be used):

Comment:

characters left
 

Featured Articles

Popular Today

 
 

Recent Comments

Boardwalk Empire, "Two Boats and a Lifeguard": daddy issues
Are you looking for a partner for the relationship or for fun? Then you came to the right place. We are providing you the best dating...
The Boonies: National Geographic's off the grid reality exploit
I can verify Bear Claw. Good man. I cant vouch for the other participants. It is to bad society does suck so bad that this type...
The Boonies: National Geographic's off the grid reality exploit
Lake Michigan is not an ocean. Has anyone seen my white dog? Lost him while hiking in Arkansas
The Boonies: National Geographic's off the grid reality exploit
I too also as well live on the island, I can attest that Dan lives in the ocean as he has for hundreds of decades. We locals call...
Parks and Recreation: why is everyone so mean to Jerry?
It's funny because its so not funny.
The Boonies: National Geographic's off the grid reality exploit
I too live on the island and ISLANDER does not know what they are talking about. Dan lives out in the middle of the island with...
The Boonies: National Geographic's off the grid reality exploit
this is not real i know that goat and it is not "doc's" its my neighbors goat. and by the way i live on the very top of that mountain...
Parks and Recreation: why is everyone so mean to Jerry?
I just finished the series on Netflix and can not wrap my mind around how he is treated. I never found humor in any of the scenes...
Swamp People, "It's Personal": men at work
Wow, very hard work , 1st they are hooked with a hook in there mouth , 2nd they come along with a shot gun and shoots it in the...