CINEMA

DISCLAIMER: There are *HEAVY* spoilers in this review. If you don’t want to know any of the general plot plus some details in between, I suggest you watch and then come back!

 

 Episode ONE: “CAMP REDWOOD”  HALF

The season premiere kicks off with some gnarly butchering of camp counselors in a cabin in the 70s. An excellent way to start a season dedicated to the slasher film genre. We meet Brooke (Emma Roberts), Montana (Billie Lourd), Chet (Gus Kenworthy), Ray (DeRon Horton), and Xavier (Cody Fern) at an aerobics class in LA, 1984. Xavier suggests they all come with him to Camp Redwood’s re-opening and be counselor's with him, to get away from the Olympics about to take place in town. Brooke, who has just only met them, passes it up, but ends up being attacked later that night by the Night Stalker (Zach Villa) and decides to tag along to camp. On the way to camp, Xavier runs over a guy in the middle of the street with his van and brings him to camp. There we meet nurse Rita (Angelica Ross) who tells us the story of the groundskeeper Mr. Jingles (John Caroll Lynch) murdering counselors in the 70s, hence why the camp closed. We also meet Chef Bertie and the camp owner Margaret (Leslie Grossman, who we learn was the only survivor of the Mr. Jingles attacks and why she reopens the camp. That night Jingles breaks out of the looney bin Michael Myers style and somehow shows up at the camp five minutes later, ready for another night of ear slicing. 

 

Later on, Brooke goes to check up on the hitchhiker, she finds him stabbed to death. She runs back to the counselor cabin with some tubular intercutting of ’84 Olympic footage, which is my favorite part of the episode. When she brings help back, he isn’t there and nobody believes her. The whole episode is molded with a classic slasher formula a very campy ora. While it felt a little predictable, a little underwhelming and not anything like previous seasons, I’m assuming that’s the point. We can only hope it’s a good thing.

 Episode TWO: “MR. JINGLES" FULL

THE FULL

  • -Brooke’s wedding was out of nowhere and jaw dropping. This is the type of unexpected stuff I like in shows like this. It’s some great backstory for her. 

  • Cody Fern gives an incredibly convincing performance. I love his range of skill as an actor. 

  • Brooke getting away from Ramirez (Night Stalker) on the dock was baller and very final girl-ish.

 

THE SPILLED

  • Nobody believes Brooke that this psycho somehow found her and honestly I don’t think I would either. It’s a little too soap opera even for AHS

  • Last episode we get this subtle, but obvious sexual tension between Montana and Brooke and then when Montana tries to kiss her here, Brooke rejects her and it’s completely forgotten about.

  • The conversation between Margaret and Ramirez is so cringe. A scene that thinks it’s so clever but it’s just awkward.

DEEP DIVE

So much happened in this episode, and there is little time and page space to cover it all. The Night Stalker seems more humanized than the actual Richard Ramirez was in real life. He was disgusting, so why is he portrayed as sexy and approachable? I guess they all are in this show. I really like Trevor, the head counselor. I also dig the opening credits. I wasn’t sure about it in the first episode, but hearing it this time made me really excited for the episode. It also seems to me that the show is going to give us characters and take them right away. I’m assuming this is to give Jingles bodies to kill. This is fine, however I find the pacing really strange.

 Episode THREE: “SLASHDANCE" HALF

THE FULL

  • This bed of spikes is terrifying. 

  • Ray’s back story is totally effed, but gives a deeper layer to him. 

  • Jingles doesn’t do much damage this episode but when he does, it’s magical and some of the best horror imagery from this season in a single scene.

 

THE SPILLED

  • The whole nurse Rita thing is a snooze because of how nonchalant they present it to us. 

  • - Bertie just kinda isn’t around. They bring her up, but we don’t see her. Just seems like they forgot about her.

DEEP DIVE

As I predicted in the last episode, we have random new characters appear for the body count. This time, they are completely pointless to the story and could have been done in a more creative way. I’m starting to think the bulk of the season is going to be strictly the same night. The flashbacks to the other story lines are what fill the time up so it makes everything drag. The way the characters react to these so called surprises feels out of place because we already know as viewers what they are. A very irritating fact I learned is that DeRon Horton is not considered a “main” character, but has the same, if not more screen time than Gus Kenworthy, who is in the opening credits. I checked wikipedia and he is under “recurring” roles, which I think is a bunch of bologna.

 Episode FOUR: “TRUE KILLERS" SPILLED

THE FULL

  • Honestly, as much as I hated the way last episode did the nurse Rita thing, I enjoyed hearing the purpose of it. Makes me wonder how far she will go. 

  • -The framing of the initial shot of the mess hall with Bertie singing to Stevie Nicks’ Leather and Lace was so pure. 

  • -The SFX makeup for the burns were awesome.

 

THE SPILLED

  • Oh, baby. I could go on and on about how entirely cheap the Montana/Ramirez thing is, but I’ll just say I hate it. That whole thing I said before about how Ramirez was sexy for no reason really came to smack me in the face. 

  • Montana’s secret beef with Brooke that’s supposed to be “Woah! Another twist!” left me laughing. Days of our Lives could have executed this better.

  • Margaret telling Benjamin the truth was watered down since we waited so long to hear it.

DEEP DIVE

There is a better way to reveal twists and surprises because we’ve seen it be done on this show plenty of times in past seasons. 80s horror films were good at having twists for the viewers to experience along with the characters. What this season fails at doing is giving that factor to the audience. It’s just feeding us info but then repeatedly relaying it to us as it goes around to each character like a game of telephone. This completely kills the shock value of the story, leaving me extremely underwhelmed and feeling like I’ve missed something. The Montana/Brooke twist makes me actually mad. It made no sense that they set us up to ship them at the beginning, ripping all hope away, THEN dropping this massive dump on us. They would have been cute is all I’m saying.

 Episode FIVE: “RED DAWN" SPILLED

THE FULL

  • I fully appreciate the Donna flashback and why she became a psychologist obsessed with serial killers. 

  • Xavier as a character is still holding up for me. He’s the only one who ever seems to want to end this awful night and acts upon it with such a force. 

  • The kids arriving to the camp is one of the most iconic scenes of this whole thing.

 

THE SPILLED

  • The whole Satan worshipping seems a little too overdone since it was the basis of last season. 

  • Jonas being stuck in the camp still makes 0 sense since he died in the street miles away.

DEEP DIVE

As our excruciatingly long night comes to and end, I can’t help but be so utterly confused by this show. It doesn’t know what it wants to be. I feel like they think because it’s supposed to be campy 80s that they can get away with so much at once. Is it a soap opera? Is it horror? Is it a satire? Is it a shit show? It’s a mix of all four in the worst way possible.

 Episode SIX: “EPISODE 100" FULL

THE FULL

  • Benjamin driving past Ramirez getting pummeled is very Sara Paulson’s season 2 middle finger moment which works very well here. 

  • Margaret’s real estate intro is really creative and also includes corgis. 

  • Leslie Jordan shows up. That’s all I needed.

 

THE SPILLED

  • Half of our main cast are now ghosts living their best lives at camp killing everyone in sight and then have to explain to each other why they do it. 

  • Ramirez in Brooke’s cell is some of the funniest stuff I’ve ever seen on this show that’s trying to be serious.

DEEP DIVE

The one hundredth episode of American Horror Story! Surely they will do something big right? Nah, just a little time jump 5 years into the future. I do think it is one of the better episodes, but I’m also just rolling with it at this point. I’ve realized you pretty much have to. I really do appreciate Leslie Grossman’s performance, specifically here. She is balls to the wall chaotic in every season, but this season has been her chance to truly shine. My favorite part of this season so far is that she builds this empire that feeds on the country’s obsession with serial killers.

 Episode SEVEN: “THE LADY IN WHITE" SPILLED

THE FULL

  • We go to a roller rink! And it’s super cute and fun! Made my heart happy.

  • Donna and Brooke’s relationship arc is the best character development so far. 

  • The set decorating for the 50s version of the camp was highly aesthetically pleasing.

 

THE SPILLED

  • The sad, watery attempt of a Friday the 13th homage that wasn’t needed.  

  • Lavinia is insufferable and makes the entire comeback of Lily Rabe make me not want it, something I never want to feel about her highness. 

  • The addition of Dylan McDermott as Bruce feels like just another familiar face like Lily, added into the mix for views.

DEEP DIVE

As if we don't get enough of that damn camp, we also get to see it in the 50s, under a different name. We learn why everything up to this point has happened that’s supposed to be the big ultimate shock of the season. Benjamin is the only one I feel anything for, which is deep sorrow. However, I think his back story would have worked better early on in the season. It almost doesn’t matter at this point, but they use it to try to shape the story as a whole. It makes me wonder if they didn’t have an end to this season when they started filming and just tied it up like this later on.

 Episode EIGHT: “REST IN PIECES" HALF

THE FULL

  • Trevor and Montana’s love arc is oddly heartwarming, an element that this season has been missing. 

  • The journalist was great because it reminded our characters the world pays more attention they think.

 

THE SPILLED

  • Brooke keeps saying she missed the 80s while locked up, but she only missed roughly 4 years of it. It just sounds really weird. 

DEEP DIVE

Lavinia all of a sudden being okay with Benjamin is huge slap in the face to him and his entire life that she made a living nightmare. She is the reason any of this happened in the first place and the show treats her like this poor lost soul that lost her boy. I want to be clear that I’m so happy John Carroll Lynch finally got a role on this show where he actually speaks and shows his talent. But man, they really did him dirty with this storyline. This episode really made me just want this season to be over. I’m tired.

 Episode NINE: “FINAL GIRL" HALF

This show loves to end it’s seasons with the present day of whatever year the show is premiering in. That’s fine, but it helps when there’s substance to it. This feels like they didn’t know any other way to end the story like “uh, I guess we’ll just have baby Jingles all “growed up” and I don’t know? Go to the camp? Sure”. I wouldn’t even consider this a finale, but a slow ‘fade out’. 

 

This wasn’t the season for me and that’s okay. I know many folks have enjoyed it and that’s okay too. The beauty of this show is that there are many different stories to cater to many types of people. As for the story, this entire season felt like a convoluted act of self destruction for the show. The plot line is full of setups we think are mysteries or possible twists, but the show just keeps nonchalantly giving us the answers. Most of the time it’s predictable, and when it’s not, it’s just lame. It got to a point where the writers started breaking their own rules just to get by. If the ghosts are to stay where they die, then why is Jonas stuck at the camp after he is brought there in the very first episode? Also, we never see Blake, the cop, or the countless hikers as ghosts. It was a great thing perfected in season 1 that was tragically diluted in this one. Even Dylan McDermott’s character turns out to be there for no reason. All this season has proved to me is that this show can write whatever incoherent mess it wants. As long as it looks and sounds like the 80s, people will come back every week. You can argue that the story is solely satire and blame it on the nonsensical and over the top homage to the era. I’m just gonna go ahead and blame it on lazy writing.

 

The acting for season 9 was great all around. As much as I disagreed with the choice of dialogue, these people never disappointed. I hope we see more of the newer actors like DeRon and Gus in the new season that’s being rumored to happen. I would also be completely okay if this show didn’t return. I think it’s finally outrun itself, but I don’t believe FX, or Ryan Murphy for that matter, is ready for that conversation yet.

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Show Review

A CASUAL      BULLET POINT

    Written By Tiffany McLaughlin

Published: 12.05.19

       FX

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RAW & UnEdited

   Release: 2019

   Genre: Horror. Drama. Thriller.

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