I know, I usually try to get these reviews out a day after the movie or show premieres, especially with American Horror Story, because I have to stream it the next day (I don’t need another bill). Unfortunately, the past couple of days I’ve been busy with personal stuff and I didn’t really have time to deal with watching and writing reviews. The only thing I’ve seen for it was a review on Twitter by someone I follow, stating that the season opening was intriguing, but not outright scary.

Well, I finally had some time to watch and review the episode, so let’s get into it. American Horror Story: Cult begins with news footage from Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton’s campaigns, starting from when the Donald started running and ending with his election as President. From there, the story follows two very different characters: Allie (played by Sarah Paulson), a woman with an anxiety disorder whose phobias, including clowns and even objects full of holes, come back in full force after Trump’s election. The other is Kai (played by Evan Peters), a purple-haired Trump supporter who has some bizarre beliefs, including that Trump’s election is the beginning of a revolution. From the look of things, their lives are going to be intertwined in strange ways.

As the Twitter reviewer said, Cult‘s first episode is less scary than intriguing. There’s a lot of focus on how the election affects everyone. Allie, being married to and having a child with another woman, is understandably scared that her family will be torn apart under the new administration, and that activates her other phobias, to the point that it’s affecting her marriage and her son negatively. Kai, on the opposite end of the spectrum, feels empowered to speak his views loud and proud, even if not everyone is interested in hearing them. The characters are exaggerated  amalgamations of reactions from both sides of the aisle, but they do get to a lot of what many Americans felt post-election.

Speaking of which, there’s an interesting scene during the first half of the episode where Allie walks into a store, and starts up a conversation with someone, only to find out they’re a Trump supporter, even though at first glance, they didn’t seem like the stereotypical Trump supporter. I had an experience like that at a drug store during the primaries, where I made a comment about the Trump campaign, and a store clerk said he might vote for Trump. And like Allie, I felt a little perturbed afterwards, because I didn’t really care for some of Trump’s policies, and I thought someone working a minimum wage job wouldn’t either. But then you got to remind yourself that the Trump campaign drew people from a number of walks of life, which lead to his election. This scene portrays that well, to the point where I felt a little deja vu.

But as for scares, it’s pretty lacking. The design of the clowns is very freaky (especially when you’re not sure if they’re real or hallucinations), and Kai is freaky all on his own, but it’s not going to scare anyone used to horror scenery. If it were more like the opening of the fifth season, where every ten minutes there was a bloody, out-of-left-field scare or death. Here, it’s just not that impactful, they’re more concerned with setting up the story. And while that has worked in other seasons and in the first episode of The Defenders, here it just doesn’t work. After all, this is American Horror Story, and the setup needs to be balanced with that horror we were promised.

It makes me hope that in the next ten episodes it’ll really ramp up on the scares and make for a fun season. And it makes me hopeful that Colton Haynes’s character gets a lot of screentime (I love him whenever I see him in anything).

On a scale of 1 to 5, I’m giving the first episode of AHS: Cult a 3.2 out 5. Good setup with believable characters and excellent tapping into America’s fractured post-election psyche, but definitely a lot more horror is needed.

That’s all for now, my Followers of Fear. Join me Saturday at some point when I review another scary thing with clowns, IT. Prepare to float!

  1. cgblade says:

    Rami, you are in Columbus, Ohio?

  2. I just got to see it last night, so your review is right on time for me 😉 I’d go ahead and give it a 4 for intrigue – I am intrigued. I don’t mind a lack of gore because sometimes I think they overdo it a bit and it feels superfluous, like they got a discount deal on bulk blood so had to throw some extra in to use it up, lol! And they rarely scare me anyway (I know, I’m jaded and hard to scare. It’s amazing since when I was a kid the beginning of Chucky 2 traumatized me because I was so easy to scare. Shows how far I’ve come, bahahahaha!) Now they do often disturb me, and I’ll give you that the creep/disturb feeling was a bit lacking in this one. I’m trying to decide if Winter is Kai’s sister or girlfriend,or what (I have read very little on the show on purpose, so if it’s already known don;t tell me, LOL!) I’m also not sure how much of hat he is spouting is really his beliefs or if he is up to something, like the insults to the hispanics – at the end of that scene it showed someone filming him being beaten up. I wouldn’t be surprised if it was all a set up to get that attack footage, and if it’s not that he’s pro-Trump because he believes in him, but rather is pro-Trump because he knows everyone will now be scared, and create that climate of terror he spoke to the city council about. What I’m also interested in, is if he is part of the clowns (which I suspect he is since they killed the city councilman who he’d already threatened), and if so why he is targeting Allie (and if the guy working the grocery store was in on it). (Again I skipped any pre-spoilers,so everyone else might already know this.)

  3. Adan Ramie says:

    I’ve loved some previous seasons and hated others, and this season is shaping up to be one I’m not super-interested in. I feel like they already played on clowns with Twisty, and to just make more clowns is … boring. And this season was more gross than anything. My main issue with the premier was the lead-in. I lived the Trump election; I didn’t need it reiterated. I was also not on board with the clown sex. That was just off-putting. I’m gonna skip this one and hope for better next time.

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