Sunday, February 15, 2015

Critical Orientation

While some might be creeped out by what American Horror Story: Asylum presents, its mind-twisting plot and in-depth characters make the audience keep watching to know what will happen next. For these reasons, American Horror Story: Asylum is a show worth studying because of its capabilities to immerse the audience into the stories of the nuns, doctors, and patients at Briarcliff Manor. 

What initially attracted me to watch American Horror Story was largely based off the name of the show itself. I love to watch horror and thriller movies so I thought that I would give this show a try. The previews for the show were enticing. They were brief snippets of characters or hints of what was to come for the season. Doing this left me wanting to know who were these characters were and what they have to do with the show. After watching the first season of American Horror Story I was hooked. I could not wait until they released the name of the next season. When I found out that season 2 would be based an asylum, I knew that the creators were taking the show to a new level. 

The contents of American Horror Story: Asylum helped make the show stand out in comparison to other television programs. The show content included many talented actors who portray their characters well, interesting camera work such as shot below the character, and great writing (intricate plot). This program is unique in that there are not any television programs of its kind. Each season is a brand new theme with a new story. There are few television shows that are in the horror genre let alone being set in an asylum. This program is one that can mess with your head and emotions. American Horror Story: Asylum leaves you wanting to know more each week while successfully creeping or scaring you at the same time.

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Each season of American Horror Story had distinct characters that made the show worth watching. Asylum in particular had great characters that were more complex than other seasons. Though these characters were different, the audience was still able to relate to them. For me, I identified with the character Lana Winters. She was very determined to get the story about the serial killer “Bloody Face” and to seek the truth about Briarcliff. Her strength and courage not only got her out of the asylum, but to reveal the true “Bloody Face” (Dr. Thredson). Even when Dr. Thredson took advantage of her she did not stop trying to save herself. Due to these acts she created a book about her experiences and that makes her well-known. Lana used this fame to fulfill a promise she made to get Briarcliff shut down. Her acts reminded me that we all have that inner strength and courage and to never be afraid to stand up for yourself. 

What makes these characters so great in American Horror Story: Asylum was largely due to the actors  
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who played these roles. Many actors, such as Jessica Lange and Evan Peters, from the first season of American Horror Story continued with the show into the second season. These actors transitioned from one character to the next with ease. This was especially true with actor Evan Peters. In American Horror Story: Asylum, Peters played Kit Walker, the accused “Bloody Face.” He emerged himself in this role. When I watched him on the show I felt Kit’s anger and pain towards the Briarcliff staff. He played the part so well that I often forgot that Peters was acting and not Kit Walker. American Horror Story: Asylum showed how Peters could execute the character he was playing and how his role immersed the audience into the story.

Another way that American Horror Story: Asylum liked to play mind games with the audience was through many relationships in the show. Asylum paired characters together that would either make sense, such as Sister Jude and Monsignor, but others were strange such as the relationship between Sister Mary and Dr. Arden. It was understandable that Sister Jude and Monsignor were close because of their work relationship at Briarcliff. The intriguing part of their relationship though was how Sister Jude had fantasies about Monsignor. She longed for more than just a work relationship. This was not possible though because of their roles in the Church. The relationship between Sister Mary and Dr. Arden was very intriguing because of their different personalities. Sister Mary was very much of a people pleaser whereas Dr. Arden acted nice on the outside but truly was evil on the inside. At first it seemed as if Dr. Arden was taking advantage of Sister Mary’s kindness so he could continue experimenting. The relationship turns though when the audience discovers that Dr. Arden in fact infatuated with Sister Mary. He remains loyal to her even when she becomes possessed. When she gets killed later on by Monsignor, Dr. Arden stays by her side by going into the burning furnace with her dead body. 

One of the reasons I found American Horror Story: Asylum interesting was how they were able to successfully show a characters story and development from beginning to end. An example that shows this is with the character Lana Winters. In the first episode we are introduced to the journalists and her attempts to interview Kit Walker. These attempts end up causing her to become a patient at Briarcliff. In following episodes we see Lana try to find ways to escape the asylum such as leaving during a nor’easter but somehow the plans end up failing. In the episode “I Am Anne Frank (Part 2)” Lana Winters is finally able to escape the asylum with the help of Dr. Thredson (the real “Bloody Face”) but ends up being trapped in his home. She now has to find a way to get out of the house. In the episode “Dark Cousin” Lana is finally able to escape hostage of Dr. Thredson but ends up in a car accident that leads her back to Briarcliff. Dr. Thredson finds Lana back at Briarcliff in “Unholy Night” with the intention of trying to kill her. The episodes that follow Lana and Kit getting Dr. Thredson to admit he is the true “Bloody Face” and once again to get out of the asylum. In “Spilt Milk,” Lana is able to leave the asylum and expose the truth about Briarcliff and Dr. Thredson. She goes to his home where she kills Dr. Thredson. The last two episodes of the season we see how she writes a book about her experiences, brings Briarcliff to an end through Briarcliff Exposed, and her at the present. Throughout the season you see how see grows and the audience gets to see her personality. 

Another aspect that I found interesting about American Horror Story: Asylum was how the show swayed the audiences’ views about a character. This can be seen with Sister Mary in how you think she is sweet and kind and then changes to be this evil woman for the rest of the season. At the beginning, the audience sees Sister Jude as a strict nun who mistreats the patient. This changes when Sister Jude becomes a patient herself and the audience sees her slowly deteriorate. A final reason why I found this program interesting was how American Horror Story: Asylum was able to convey horror in a unique way. This included “Bloody Face”, the Raspers in the woods, Dr. Arden, Dr. Thredson, etc. Some of these were creepy looking at them whereas the characters Dr. Arden and Dr. Thredson were scary in how they act. They were able to scare the audience with their words and actions. Sometimes this was scarier then seeing “Bloody Face” itself! 

There is so much to American Horror Story: Asylum that makes it interesting to study. Whether it be the characters, their relationships to other characters, or the horror elements of the show, each add to why the show is worth watching. There are many reasons why American Horror Story: Asylum is interesting to watch (as I talked about above). People find the show interesting because of how different it is compared to other television programs. If you want to watch a unique show that you cannot stop watching take the time to watch American Horror Story: Asylum. Soon you will be immersed into the ever so creepy Briarcliff Manor. 

Works Cited

"American Horror Story: Asylum." Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, n.d. Web. 15 Feb. 2015.  

"List of American Horror Story Characters." Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, n.d. Web. 15 Feb. 2015. 

Sunday, February 8, 2015


Welcome to my first blog post about American Horror Story: Asylum! Please watch this video first!

This is a summary of the pilot episode, "Welcome to Briarcliff" from American Horror Story: Asylum (as mentioned in the video).

The episode opens with a pair of newlyweds, Leo and Teresa (played by Adam Levine and Jenna Dewan Tatum) exploring the now abandoned Briarcliff Manor. This is part of their honeymoon trip in which they visiting the 12 most haunted places in America. Briarcliff, originally a tuberculosis ward turned into an insane asylum after the Catholic Church bought it in 1962. The most famous resident at Briarcliff was the serial killer Bloody Face. 

While there they hear a noise and start to investigate. Leo sticks his hand through an access panel, a takes a picture, something flashes, and screams ensue. He pulls away from the door only to see that his arm has been ripped off.

The show goes back to 1964 where most the show is set in. The scene opens with Kit Walker getting
ready to go home when his friend Billy shows up with a couple of other men. They ask to borrow his gun to scare someone, but Kit refuses. He returns home to his African American wife No one is aware that he is married because he wants to keep her safe. While the wife is making dinner, Kit notices a light outside. He goes out thinking that it is Billy, only to see a white light in the sky and hears his wife screaming. He runs inside the home to see the place is destroyed. A ear splitting noise begins that makes the windows shatter. Things start flying to the ceiling and then Kit is yanked up.

It cuts to journalist Lana Winters talking to Sister Mary about doing a story on the bakery at Briarcliff. We are introduced to Pepper, one of the inmates who apparently drowned her baby and sliced its ears off. Sister Mary leads Lana inside to see the asylum and meet Sister Jude. While Sister Jude and Lana are talking, Sister Jude tells about Shelley, an inmate, and Monsignor  whose phrase is the three P’s: productivity, prayer and purification. 

Sister Mary interrupts to tell Sister Jude that Bloody Face is arriving at the asylum. We see Kit
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Walker, come in, the accused Bloody Face. Once he wakes up after being sedated, Kit tries to explain to Sister Jude that he saw monsters but she does not believe one words he says.
In the common room Kit meets the various residents of Briarcliff including Shelley and Grace whose warns him not to turn off the music or it could cause trouble. Kit gets into a fight with another resident that causes Sister Jude to blow a very loud whistle and him to be put into solitary confinement. Grace go to visit Kit in solitary confinement where both discuss how they both did not do the crimes they are accused. 

Sister Jude and Dr. Arden butt heads about how he runs his laboratory. Sister Jude questions where the missing patients are and Dr. Arden insists they are dead and cremated. She does not believe anything he says and is determined to find out what he is hiding. 

The next scene cuts to Lana Winter talking with her girlfriend Wendy about how she wants to write an article about Briarcliff but her boss wants her to stick with writing in the cooking column.

Monsignor Howard and Sister Jude have dinner together where she asks where he found Dr. Arden. He tells her not to worry about him and that science and faith can exist together. We see Sister Jude fantasize about Monsignor only to realize that he is still talking about them working as a team. While this is happening Lana runs into Sister Mary out in the woods where previously she and Dr. Arden were talking about how hungry are the presence in the woods. Kit gets taken in by Dr. Arden for reasons we do not just yet.

The episode flashes back to the present where Teresa is trying to find a way out of the abandoned Briarcliff. She finds a tunnel which she goes through and the scene goes back to 1964 seeing Lana and Sister Mary going through the secret tunnel. Sister Mary runs away after feces is thrown on here face leaving Lana alone. She goes and hides in a cell in hopes of not being caught by Sister Jude.

Kit, now with Dr. Arden asks why he is doing this to him and begins to experiment on him without any anesthetic. Kit recalls his abduction experience and sees his wife Alma. Dr. Arden finds an implant in Kits neck.

Sister Jude scolds Sister Mary for allowing Lana into the asylum. Sister Mary insists that she punishes her but Sister Jude tells her to get herself together and does not have the time for her. 

We see Lana Winters restrained because of trespassing and that will be staying for some time to receive “treatment.” The scene cuts to Sister Jude visiting Wendy where she questions her relations with Lana. Sister Jude threatens to expose their relationship if she does not sign the custody papers. Wendy gives in and releases Lana over to the asylum. 

Sister Jude smells a fowl odor in one of the solitary cell to see that Dr. Arden is cleaning it up. She questions if someone was living in here and what he was doing. The scene flashes back to the present with Leo lying on the ground in same cell that Dr. Arden was cleaning. The episode ends with Teresa running down the secret tunnel in which she encounters Bloody Face.  

To see more reviews for American Horror Story: Asylum visit the Rotten Tomatoes website. 

Works Cited

American Horror Story: Asylum." Rotten Tomatoes. N.p., n.d. Web. 8 Feb. 2015. 
"American Horror Story: Asylum." Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, n.d. Web. 08 Feb. 2015. 
"Asylum (story)." American Horror Story Wiki. N.p., n.d. Web. 08 Feb. 2015. 
"List of American Horror Story Characters." Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, n.d. Web. 08 Feb. 2015. 
"Welcome to Briarcliff." IMDb., n.d. Web. 08 Feb. 2015.