The anthology series of Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk, American Horror Story (AHS), has already accumulated 8 seasons behind him. The last, Apocalypse, generated some expectation for the novel element of the crossover. However, the feeling, in general, is to have seen a dispensable delivery, which has had its good times, but is not up to other seasons. For that reason, today I am ready to recall the one that, in my opinion, is the best of all: AHS: Asylum.
Given the anthological nature of the series, we find brilliant seasons and others that bore us sovereignly. It is true that this can be very subjective and will depend on the personal taste of each one. But if you look at any ranking that circulates on the network, surely, AHS: Asylum is among the top positions.
Asylum manages to mix so many things in a single series that is fascinating. There are more powerful plots than others, but what matters is the result; and, in this, Asylum goes very well stopped. It is a season that, in short, fits well with all tastes, we have supernatural elements, murders, mystery, extraterrestrials … It combines the main themes of the horror genre in just 13 episodes. In addition, it is the season that is most related to psychology.
American Horror Story: Asylum, the most ambitious season
Asylum is the most ambitious season because, as we have advanced, it covers almost all possible branches of horror cinema. Due to its complexity and the breadth of its theme, we would expect an unconnected season. But, against all odds, he managed to connect the frames without actually collapsing.
Asylum is the second season of the series, something that also plays in their favor. For other seasons equally applauded, as Roanoke, have not come to love in the same way due to the exhaustion and the progressive loss of fans of the series. After the success of the first installment, Murder House, there had been some expectation to know what would come next. Asylum took a deserved first place, after 8 seasons, it seems that no one is going to snatch him.
And there, at the top, we found this fascinating season that gave us some of the best performances of the series. Lana Winters (Sarah Paulson) is one of the most loved and remembered characters. Practically all the female characters shined with their own light, without detracting from Kit Walker (Evan Peters) and the incredible Dr. Thredson (Zachary Quinto).
It is one of the seasons in which we can best appreciate the evolution of the characters; a coherent evolution and not unreasonable as it happens in Hotel.
The narrative sense is complex, that we will not deny, it is difficult to connect each episode and each story that is presented to us. There are countless guest characters and story lines. But it accomplishes its mission and immerses us in the horrors of the human being.
It leads us to the place where the atrocity reigns, where humanity vanishes and the atmosphere suffocates. In our head, the damn song in French, Dominique, that repeats itself like a loop reminding us where we are: in the paradise of madness.
American Horror Story: Asylum, the horrors of madness
In some episode, the chaos is such that you no longer know if the characters have lost their minds, if they have been the scriptwriters or if it is you who is going crazy. Asylum is delirious, it is pure madness, it breathes in the environment, it emanates from the walls of Briarcliff (the mental institution in which the action takes place) and, of course, it is also palpable in its form, in its disorder .
In this way, in the middle of the labyrinth that is Briarcliff, we find a series of characters that, unfortunately, have gone to the worst of places. Madness has not always been seen in the same way, this was already noted by Michel Foucault in his History of Madness in classical times.
What we see in Asylum is really creepy, can a young journalist be labeled as mentally ill because she is a lesbian? Can a nymphomaniac be held in an institution for criminals with mental problems?
“If we dig a little in the past, we will soon realize that many of the things that we take as normal today, in the past, were a huge problem. Also, we should not leave aside the fact that Briarcliff is in the hands of the Church and, as a consequence, many behaviors, especially those linked to the sexual, will be repressed.”
Physical punishments and electroshocks that cure homosexuality were the order of the day. The majority of patients in Briarcliff not only suffer from a disease (or what was then a disease), but there are also criminals.
In a place forgotten and away from the rest of the mortals, people who have committed atrocious acts and have some indication of mental illness are imprisoned. Does not it remind you a little of Shutter Island? Everything that is not worthy of being in society is excluded and subjected to the worst of horrors.
The point is that, although there are patients who are true criminals, we also find people like Lana whose only crime is being homosexual (and wanting to know too much). All well hidden and locked away between cassocks, a murderous psychiatrist and a Nazi doctor who only sees his patients as despicable beings to experiment on.
Sex, blasphemy, blood, death and corruption make up a series that, in short, is not suitable for all audiences and not for any stomach.
Despicable characters of American Horror Story
Asylum immerses us in that underworld of madness, of the old asylums in which everything was possible, although here, taken to the extreme. Because it’s American Horror Story and we do not like halftones; or all or nothing, that is how the horror is configured in Briarcliff. By subjecting the characters to confinement in a gloomy and almost rotten place, all situations are taken to extremes, putting people to the limit and leading to the worst of scenarios.
And the moral of all this hell is that the crazy person is always excluded and, once it has been classified as such, it will be difficult to get rid of that label and, surely, nobody will listen to it. Therefore, this environment is the ideal to bring the atrocity to its wildest state, because it will hardly come to light.
So, what we find is that there is no hope, there are hardly any characters that know goodness. Even the young and innocent Mary Eunice, the only nun who knows what compassion is, is possessed by the devil (all very normal).
Sister Jude, on the other hand, is dedicated to suppressing the sexual behaviors of the inmates while she wears red underwear and fantasizes sexually with Monsignor Timothy Howard. Monseñor, in turn, turns a blind eye to the doctor’s experiments in exchange for money; He is willing to do anything to become a cardinal.
Everything reprehensible, the taboo, appears in the characters of Asylum and, curiously, the least despicable turn out to be the patients. The condensation of absolute evil is embodied by a psychiatrist, Dr. Thredson, who at first seems to try to help his patient, Kit Walker, but all he wants from him is to be condemned for the murders committed by the doctor himself .
Briarcliff was presented to us as an institution in which the worst criminals and the mentally ill hide. In a way, this is true, only that, in the end, they have turned around and it turns out that the dangerous ones are not the patients, but those who run the institution. And after thinking coldly everything that configures Asylum, I can not do anything but wonder if the crazy are the spectators or simply have succumbed to a kind of catharsis.
“All monsters are human”.
-Sister Jude, AHS: Asylum-