The seventh season of American Horror Story is a very different beast from its predecessors. For the first time the focus is not on humans interacting with supernatural elements but rather the monstrous things we do to each other when we are afraid.
The season is set in the lead up to and aftermath of the 2016 US Presidential elections. Lesbian couple, Ally (Sarah Paulson) and Ivy (Alison Pill) are deeply shaken by the result with Ally’s phobias and anxieties spiralling out of control. It’s not long before Ally is seeing clowns everywhere, which impacts the couple’s young son, Ozy (Cooper Dodson) and hampers her ability to work at their restaurant.
Meanwhile local oddball, Kai Anderson (Evan Peters) is fascinated by the concept of fear and how he can use terror to his advantage. Kai intends to build an army of followers to help him rise to power and create the anarchy he craves.
As a series of terrible murders occur, the residents of Brookfield Heights are drawn to the apparent security behind his radical ideas but who exactly is behind the clown masked murderers?
It’s kind of hard to describe this season without giving too much away as not knowing who is and who is not in Kai’s cult is part of the shock factor of what is happening. There are some very interesting, very current themes at play in this season. Gender politics are high on the agenda, as is liberalism, rape culture, fake news and the rise of the alt right.
Cult is very much Peters’ show and he does a great job of portraying a damaged, yet very intelligent narcissist who is strangely compelling. Sarah Paulson is once again a stalwart performer but her character’s mid-season transformation is quite hard to swallow. I think this is more a factor of writing than performance though. I loved Billie Lourd as Ally and Ivy’s nanny, Ivy and Adina Porter brings a kind of crazy intensity to reporter, Beverley. I can’t say I was as enthusiastic about Leslie Grossman and Billy Eichner playing their neighbours and Cheyenne Jackson was a bit flat as Ally’s therapist. I also missed Kathy Burke, Angela Bassett and Denis O’Hare so much.
Overall this season is a bit of a mixed bag. I loved the concept but some of the execution went astray. The thing with AHS is that even when it’s gone a little wrong, you still can’t stop watching. Although it took several episodes to get going once it really did it was just about worth the build up.