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TV Review: ‘American Horror Story’ gets super freaky for fourth season

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CALVIN FLEMING, FLICKR

Afraid of clowns? Avoid watching the new season of “American Horror Story” on Wednesday nights.

Jessica Lange, Angela Bassett, Kathy Bates, Sarah Paulson and Evan Peters return for what could be their big “AHS” finale.

The fourth season, “Freak Show,” sends viewers down to the fictional Jupiter, Florida in the 1950s where a local freak show awaits. The premiere paints the eerie circus carnival as a refuge for the outcasted rejects of society from conjoined twins (Paulson, “12 Years a Slave”) and a boy with ectrodactyly (Peters, “X-Men: Days of Future Past”) to a woman with three breasts (Bassett, “Black Nativity”), a bearded lady (Bates, “Misery”) and so many more. The whole production is run by a German woman named Elsa (Lange, “Tootsie”) who yearns for an opportunity to shine in spotlight of the cabaret.

Of course, being a “freak” is no paradise— everyone in town harrasses the carnies and accuses them of the serial murders that have been piling up in Jupiter. Despite their efforts to entertain the crowd through fear or fascination, they are all still perceived as monsters.

This season begins with genuinely interesting story lines unlike last season, “AHS: Coven.” Based on the premiere, there is more emphasis on suspense and action, but it wouldn’t be “AHS” without a complicated love triangle in the equation, accompanied by loads of dirty talk and freaky orgies. Lange already has a lot of wow worthy moments in the premiere, from her extravagant cover of David Bowie’s “Life on Mars” to her heartfelt speech about the beauty of monsters.

“I’ll tell you who the monsters are. The people outside this tent. In your town. In all these little towns. Housewives pinched with bitterness, stupefied with boredom, as they doze off in front of their laundry detergent commercials and dream of strange erotic pleasures. They have no souls,” she said. “My monsters—the ones you call depraved—they are the beautiful, heroic ones. They offer their oddity to the world.”

Overall, this is executive producer Ryan Murphy’s grim tale about show business and what happens behind the curtains. It also presents a warped reality of exploitation and marginalization in society. This sense of otherness is something that viewers will undoubtedly be able to identify with as the episodes progress.

The best part about the new season of “AHS” is that it’s actually scary again! Prepare to be hiding behind couches and re-experiencing suppressed nightmares from childhood— on a scare scale of one to 10, this might be 20 times worse than “Are You Afraid Of The Dark.”

Watching everything unfold is similar to winding up a Jack-N-The-Box, except there’s no telling where and when the toy will pop out. Good luck trying to escape from Twisty (John Carroll Lynch, “Shutter Island”) the creepy clown that stabs people to death with his props, kidnaps children and locks them in cages with a sinister smile on his bloody face.

‘Tis the season for a good scare with Halloween being around the corner and all! Watching AHS alone might not be an option though.

Tune in to “American Horror Story: Freak Show” on Wednesdays at 10 p.m. on FX.

sgore@theeagleonline.com


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