FX American Horror Story Freak Show Monsters Among Us TV Show Review. American Horror Story: Season 4, Episode 1: Monsters Among Us is the fourth installment of the anthology series by show runners Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk, taking us back to the early 50‘s in Jupiter, Florida…the end of an era of side show freaks and the world of the carnival.
The celebrated and extraordinary Jessica Lange returns to play German ex-pat Elsa Mars, who is trying desperately to keep her sideshow up and running at a time when the industry is clearly dying. Fraulein Elsa’s “Cabinet of Curiosities” is in need of a headliner to revive the show…and when conjoined twins Bette and Dot Tatter (Sarah Paulson) are discovered after the gruesome death of their mother, Elsa wastes no time seducing them for her own needs. The twins murdered their mother, but it was an accident…to help them escape persecution, Elsa introduces them to the Freak Show.
[Sarah Paulson plays the conjoined twins Bette and Dot exceptionally. The girls have conflicting personalities, and with the help of some impeccable special effects, the dual heads are believable. A split screen is used effectively to show only one of the girls at a time, giving each their own perspective…and perhaps giving Sarah a respite from the prosthetic head.]
Evan Peters is “lobster” handed and sexually gifted (?) Jimmy Darling, and the voice of the outcasts. [He gave a couple of fervent monologues on the subject of “freaks” and outcasts that were impassioned but seemed too preachy for me for this first episode.] The masterful Kathy Bates plays his bearded mother Ethel, who is beholden to Elsa for rescuing her from a life of alcoholism and jail.
Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk have introduced us to a genuinely off-the-charts-terrifying serial killer in Twisty the clown, played by John Carroll Lynch. An already psychotic being…who also appears to be on the verge of a nervous breakdown! As Elsa is attempting to revive her carnival of freaks, there is a real freak terrorizing Jupiter and kidnapping young people…for what, we don’t know yet. [There seems to me to be a nod to the character of Michael in the Halloween series here. Similar to Michael, Twisty stalks his prey day or night in full creepy regalia, and no one seems the wiser…until it’s too late.]
The supporting cast of freaks are truly a motley, wonderful crew of performers. Amazon Eve (Erika Ervin), Paul the Illustrated Seal (Mat Fraser), Legless Suzi (Rose Siggins), Meep (Ben Woolf) and Pepper (Naomi Grossman) returns as the only character to recur from season 2. Jyoti Amge from India, the world’s smallest woman, joins the cast as well.
I am predicting that the character of Dandy Mott (a perfectly cast Finn Wittrock), a spoiled mama’s boy, will unfold into something perhaps far freakier than any of the above. Gloria Mott, his mother, is played with a deft hand by the beloved Frances Conroy.
In the very last scene, we see that Elsa is more like her freaks than we could have imagined.
I think the choice of the dying era of the carnival and side show freaks an excellent playground for AHS to explore…I’m pleased to have bought my ticket for the show.
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