We reveal our opinion on the first three episodes of American Horror Stories, the new horror series from Ryan Murphy. The first episode is already available on Disney +.
What is this spin-off?
American Horror Stories is a spin-off of the American Horror series Story, created by duo Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk. This new horror series features the favorite actors of the two creators. The principle is simple: with each episode, a new plot. This spinoff series is coming to Disney +, while the tenth season of the original series is still in the air. Ryan Murphy is unstoppable. Indeed, in 2016 he had already extended his universe with American Crime Story, by telling the OJ Simpson affair and then in 2018 by telling the death of the fashion designer Gianni Versace. He has been one of the most active showrunners for ten years. We owe him the series Pose and The Politician but also the mini-series Ratched, Without forgetting Nip / Tuck and Glee, his first successes. All formats and genres seem to be successful.
Back to the origins of the anthology
With American Horror Stories, he always wishes talk about horror but in a different way. Ryan Murphy redefined the anthology series with American Horror Story, focusing on a new plot with each new season. Here it comes down to origins of the anthology. Like cult series like The Fourth Dimension and Alfred Hitchcock presents, the episodes are independent.
If on paper this idea sounds very interesting, what is it really? Yes American Horror Story is so popular it’s thanks to the atmospheres created, the writing of the characters and the gradual rise of horror. In an episode of about forty minutes, the setting up of the horror is necessarily different. This spin-off is therefore a challenge for the creators. They must succeed in establishing a mood and scaring in a limited amount of time.
When we look at what is being done at the moment in terms of genre series, the trend is towards short series. The Haunting of Hill House is perhaps one of the scariest series out there, and all ten episodes are needed to establish fear. With the second season, Mike Flanagan takes the example of AHS by telling a whole new story with the same actors. So can AHStories format work?
Our first take on American Horror Stories
After watching the first three episodes, our opinion is mixed. If we had been promised a new story in every episode, the first two are actually a single, two-part plot. Enough to further complicate the form of this season. These first two episodes take place in the house of the first season of AHS. There is something to get lost. A couple and their young teenager therefore move into this horror house. They want to renovate the house to make it an attraction. The girl goes by chance to find the latex costume of Tate Langdon (from AHS season 1) and literally put on in the skin of the killer. If the idea of returning to this place dear to the fans of the series is interesting, we remain unsatisfied. Only a few ghosts appear, we do not find the Harmon family, nor the Langdon family.
Even if the idea is good and nostalgic, placing the story in this place seems like simple fan service. There is indeed no question of finding our favorite ghosts but of using the house as a pretext and as a facility, because we already know the peculiarity of this house (people who die in this house remain stuck there forever). These first two episodes are a false good idea. In fact, in the eighth season of AHS, the characters had already visited this house. Ryan Murphy perhaps should have made episodes totally detached from the original series.
We are waiting to find out more
The third episode is nevertheless what it had promised. It’s a totally independent story, where we find Ryan Murphy’s love for urban legends. Adolescents attend the outdoor screening of a film banned since 1986. This famous film would incite spectators to kill each other. This story works completely in one episode. The plot is effective. We hope that for the next episodes, Ryan Murphy has decided to follow this idea and no longer offer us extended episodes too inspired by AHS.
American Horror Stories is available on Disney + from September 8.