American Horror Story: Asylum kicked off last night with “Welcome to Briarcliff.” Featuring new and old faces to the Ryan Murphy/Brad Falchuk horror franchise, reviews are in, and they’re mixed.
Even though promo ads made it appear that Adam Levine would be an inmate at the titular asylum, Briarcliff Manor, we saw in the trailer that he and costar Jenna Dewan Tatum would be playing horror-loving honeymooners on a mission to visit as many haunted places as possible and get it on. How this affected the rest of their tour group, I have no idea, since we saw in last night’s premiere (SPOILER ALERT) they were stupidly running around solo in an abandoned and very dangerous building; and the germaphobe in me got a catch of vom in the back of my throat when Levine licked his hand to “get things going” after having just walked around touching every filthy thing in sight. Okay moving on.
American Horror Story: Asylum switches back and forth between what happens to the couple in present day and the inmates and staff in 1964 at Briarcliff, but don’t be fooled into thinking the place has somehow become more peaceful now that Jessica Lange and James Cromwell are long gone.
Much like the first season of American Horror Story, now nicknamed “Murder House” to differentiate it from any future seasons, Lange and Evan Peters are central to the action in Asylum. Having last season played mother and son they are once again at odds, this time with Peters playing an unwilling inmate to Lange’s HBIC. Once again both actors shine, and, while we all know what a powerhouse Jessica Lange can be, it is nice to also learn what incredible range Peters is capable of.
The show itself is fast-paced, but, as other reviewers have stated, at times, too much so. There was so much thrown into the first episode that it was occasionally hard to keep track of. Entertainment Weekly’s Ken Tucker called it “the sort of OCD storytelling that characterizes some of Murphy’s work, as though leaping rapidly from one scene/mood/clue to another will distract us from realizing we’ve seen these fright-night set-ups many times before.”
While I have to agree with Tucker and other reviewers (Kevin Yeoman has a great one over at ScreenRant, mind the spoilers) that at times the plot devices feel a little formulaic, the actors are fantastic and coupled with the cinematography create a scary-fun, unsettling atmosphere. Granted that could also be due to the frenetic story-pacing, but, as an unapologetic horror-buff I’m hoping AHS: Asylum becomes as much of a favorite as its predecessor is. Bottom line: it’s great fun, full of enjoyable (although at times predictable) scares, and definitely not for kiddies.
What did you think of the premiere of American Horror Story: Asylum? Sound off in the comments below!