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American Horror Story 

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An anthology series centering on different characters and locations, including a house with a murderous past, an insane asylum, a witch coven, a freak show circus, a haunted hotel, a possessed farmhouse, a cult, the apocalypse, and a slasher summer camp.
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13   12   11   10   9   8   7   6   5   … See all »
2022   2021   2019   2018   … See all »
Won 2 Golden Globes. Another 125 wins & 386 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Series cast summary:
Evan Peters ...  James March / ... 95 episodes, 2011-2021
Sarah Paulson ...  Lana Winters / ... 86 episodes, 2011-2021
Denis O'Hare ...  Spalding / ... 60 episodes, 2011-2016
Kathy Bates ...  Madame Delphine LaLaurie / ... 58 episodes, 2013-2018
Frances Conroy ...  Myrtle Snow / ... 53 episodes, 2011-2021
Jessica Lange ...  Constance Langdon / ... 53 episodes, 2011-2018
Lily Rabe ...  Misty Day / ... 52 episodes, 2011-2021
Angela Bassett ...  Desiree Dupree / ... 48 episodes, 2013-2018
Emma Roberts ...  Madison Montgomery / ... 46 episodes, 2013-2019
Cheyenne Jackson ...  Will Drake / ... 43 episodes, 2015-2018

A Guide to the Work of Ryan Murphy

From "Glee" and "American Horror Story" to "Pose" and The Prom, we break down the storytelling and stylistic trademarks of creator, writer, producer, and director, Ryan Murphy.

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Storyline

Physical and psychological horrors affect a decomposing family, workers and residents of an insane asylum, a coven of witches, a cast of circus freaks, the employees and guests at a struggling hotel, a family who moved into a mysterious farmhouse, the members of a small suburb in Michigan, the surviving members of the Apocalypse and the counselors of a creepy summer camp in this haunting anthology series, focusing on the themes of infidelity, sanity, oppression, discrimination, addiction and exploitation.

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

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Genres:

Drama | Horror | Thriller

Certificate:

TV-MA | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

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Did You Know?

Trivia

Within the season "Freak Show", the character Twisty the Clown (John Carroll Lynch) was disliked by the National Clown Association of America for his inaccurate portrayal of clowns, and was thought to give clowns a bad reputation. See more »

Goofs

During Roanoke's second half, the characters are seen using their camera-only phones for both constant recording and a flashlight - some episodes have them using their phones for days without charging them. This incessant use would wear down the battery within a few hours, even without using other apps. See more »

Quotes

Billie Dean Howard: I think we're gonna get a pickup on my Lifetime pilot. And as soon as we do, I wanna bring you on as my guest.
Constance Langdon: I can't focus on your... career right now. I maybe looking at a rather Earth shattering situation.
Billie Dean Howard: Could we be talking menopause baby? Why am I seeing baby pictures?
Constance Langdon: Tell me... What happens when a human... copulates with someone from the spirit world?
Billie Dean Howard: Spirits aren't known for their potency.
Constance Langdon: Yes, but... what if there is, in fact, a conception?
Billie Dean Howard: You do know about the box? The Pope's box?
Constance Langdon: What ...
[...]
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Connections

Referenced in Talking Dead: Time for After (2017) See more »

Soundtracks

American Horror Story Theme
(uncredited)
Written by Cesar Davila-Irizarry and Charlie Clouser
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User Reviews

 
Thoughts on 1984
22 July 2020 | by BertautSee all my reviews

A pitch-perfect homage/parody of summer-camp slasher movies, AHS/1984 is, for me, the best season of American Horror Story since the exceptional second season, Asylum. However, there's no denying it's divisive, and AHS purists probably won't be overly impressed. For one thing, it's a dark and camp comedy before it's a thriller or a horror. For another, it leans very heavily into '80s clichés and slasher movie tropes. On the other hand, it's consistently hilarious, it doesn't take itself seriously, and despite the ridiculousness of the plot and the twists layered on top of twists, it manages to elicit quite a bit of empathy for a couple of characters who were introduced as one-dimensionally irredeemable. And the soundtrack, wardrobe, and hairstyles have more '80s cheese and excess than you could ever imagine.

LA, 1984. Montana (Billie Lourd), a fiery devil-may-care extrovert; Xavier (a superb Cody Fern), a self-serious aspiring actor; Chet (Gus Kenworthy), a professional athlete who has been suspended from Team USA for the 1984 Olympics after failing a drug test; and Ray (DeRon Horton), a friendly man with a troubling secret, are heading to work as counsellors at a newly reopened summer camp called Camp Redwood. They ask their new friend Brooke (Emma Roberts) to join them, but she declines. However, that night, she's attacked by Richard Ramirez, aka the Night Stalker (a brilliant Zach Villa). She fends him off, but the incident convinces her to join the others. At Redwood, they meet Margaret (an exceptional Leslie Grossman), who survived a massacre there in 1970 and now owns the camp; Rita (Angelica Ross), the nurse; Bertie (Tara Karsian), the chef; and Trevor (a hilarious Matthew Morrison), the activities director. Meanwhile, Benjamin Richter, aka Mr Jingles (a scene-stealing John Carroll Lynch), the former groundskeeper at Redwood and perpetrator of the 1970 massacre, escapes from a nearby mental facility and heads to the camp.

The first thing you'll notice about 1984 is how immersed it is in slasher movie references and tropes, with a particular preference for Halloween (1978) and, especially, Friday the 13th (1980), both of which are referenced throughout the nine episodes. Not quite a post-modernist reimagining of the genre, the season could stand as a respectable slasher story in its own right, and in this sense, the tone is absolutely pitch-perfect. Take the opening credits. Whereas previous AHS sequences are usually unnerving, the opening to 1984 is a thing of tacky '80s beauty - shot on VHS in 1.33:1 (the recording even has some visible tracking lines from time to time), the pastel-infused credits are made up of shots of aerobics, tape decks, gaudy fashion, dodgy '80s video graphics, VCRs, Ronald Reagan, and roller skates. Meanwhile, the unsettling AHS theme music is here reproduced on a synth. It's horrible, cheesy, about as unthreatening as you can imagine, and awesome.

The show goes on to hit classic genre markers such the campfire scene used to provide heavy exposition, the clichéd chase scene where the girl being pursued keeps tripping and falling over, the characters continually splitting up for various (dubious) reasons, and the plethora of pseudo-POV shots from behind trees.

Having said all that, however, there are certainly elements of postmodern-esque deconstruction at play; the girl with the huge breasts becomes the guy with the huge penis, the black characters survive beyond the opening act, the quintessential shower scene upon which someone is spying involves not women but men, and there's a fascinating pseudo-meta defamiliarisation of the clichéd notion that despite being flesh and blood humans, serial killers in slasher films are notoriously difficult to kill.

A vital element of any season of AHS is humour, and so too 1984. Usually, the best laughs come from the earnestness of the characters, who are blissfully unaware of how ridiculous they sound. So, when Brooke meets Xavier, he tells her, dead-pan, "I trained with Stella Adler. I'm method". Later on, he discusses the dangers of being in a coma by referencing the song, "Coma Chameleon". After one of the characters is badly burned, an argument breaks out and when someone tells this character to breathe, they proclaim, "I have breathed the fire of a thousand white-hot suns". Discussing Billy Idol, a character points out to Ramirez, "You can't sing "Rebel Yell" and not be a rebel", a point he concedes as pretty reasonable.

Thematically, despite its campiness, 1984 does actually have some things to say. The most obvious issue is media commodification of serial killers. Whether it be by making a movie or putting their face on a magazine, serial killers and mass murderers sell, and there's something inherently wrong about that; why do we give serial killers cool nicknames and then endlessly engage with them in every way imaginable, thus giving them exactly what so many of them want - infamy. And, of course, it wouldn't be AHS without looking at gender issues. Here we see a critique of the notion that female victims of male serial killers are celebrated as "feminist heroes", as if they'd rather be an icon than be alive. There's also a nicely written reformulation of the serial killer trope whereby women are not believed as they fight male monsters.

In terms of problems, on the one hand, there is too much time spent on explaining things the audience already knows and hitting character beats we've already hit. On the other, there is a disorienting and not entirely successful time jump between the second to last and last episode, and it feels almost like there was an episode skipped between the two, especially insofar as the finale ill-advisedly introduces an entirely new character (this sense of truncation isn't helped that the season is only nine episodes - AHS's shortest yet). Some viewers will also undoubtedly find the humour too camp and too frequent, undermining the horror element, whilst some will find the plethora of references nothing more than pastiche, intertextuality for its own sake.

All in all, I thoroughly enjoyed this season of American Horror Story. It's not the most thrilling or unnerving, but it is the funniest and most self-reflexive. Strong characters, typically tremendous acting, and some genuinely heartfelt moments combine with great costumes, foolish hair, and a soundtrack of so-bad-they're-great songs to produce a season that might mean little to those born post-1989, but to the rest of us is an ode to the achingly familiar.


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Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

5 October 2011 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

American Horror Story: Asylum See more »

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Dolby Digital

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Aspect Ratio:

16:9 HD
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