Oh the Horror
Meant to Disturb
American Horror Story, or AHS, was first created by Ryan Murphy in 2011 with the intent to scare and slightly disturb its viewers. The show accomplished this by presenting six seasons of gore and terror. Through the use of varying story lines, and the reuse of beloved characters Murphy was able to obtain many fans through this series. The series includes six seasons named “Murder House”, “Asylum”, “Coven”, “Freak Show”, “Hotel”, and “Roanoke.”
In the first, fifth, and sixth season, “Murder House,” “Freak Show,” and “Roanoke,” ghosts and entities traumatize the cast. In season one and six, ghosts are a key component to the story-line. Both seasons revolve around a house that is home to all the spirits that died when they were living there in the past. Alternatively, season five involves the ghosts of the previous owners of the hotel and the ghosts of serial killers, but the main “haunting” of this season is done by vampires who now own the hotel. On the other hand, season two and four, “Asylum” and “Freakshow” both have murderous villains terrorizing the rest of the cast. With season two’s Bloody face and season four’s Twisty the clown, the audience was given a more believable situation and they loved it. As for season five, the protagonists are different from the others. In this season they are witches young and old who are trying to survive in present day Old Salem.
Each episode is made to scare and horrify its fans, but also the varying story lines of each season keep the audience interested. Murphy is known for sending out teasers for the new seasons periodically, leaving his fans to guess the theme of his shows. Each season he produces brings new unique ideas for set, plot, and characters. Only two seasons so far are set in the same city, “Murder House” and “Hotel,” and only two seasons have minor connections between the two plots, “Murder House” and “Roanoke.” Besides small connections, no season is quite like the other.
Along with the use of unique stories, there is also new characters in every season. From civilians to murders, the cast is constantly challenged with insane roles to play. Even though the characters played in each season are always different, Murphy has made his anthology stand out by using the same actors and actresses throughout all the seasons. With cast members like Evan Peters and Jessica Lange who have consistently played the most loved roles, and guest stars such as Lady Gaga, AHS’s fan base continues to rise every season. The viewers begin to fall in love with the reoccurring cast and who they play every season.
Evolution of Gory
Even though all the seasons are full of gory scenes, I thought it would be best to compare the two that are most closely related, “Murder House” and “Roanoke”. In both seasons, there are spirits that are haunting the house and the land around it. During the first season, the demise of characters is not as graphic and as well explained as the deaths in the sixth season. Murphy’s stories, by the sixth season, have become very graphic.
During “Murder House” the most deaths were explained during a flashback. Such as when Tate was shot by the police in his own bedroom for shooting his classmates. There were also other deaths, such as Violet’s,played by Taissa Farminga,when she overdosed, that occurred making it look like character had not died yet. In Violet’s case, neither she nor the cast new she was dead for till later on in the season. This season, although full of death, was not as gory and blood stained like the most recent season was.
Almost every episode in “Roanoke” resulted in someone’s head bashed in, a slit in a throat or an ax in their skull. One of the main characters, the Butcher, was known for spilling blood. The Butcher killed the staff and cast members of the documentary within the show using her butchering cleaver. There is also a scene where the cast members meet cannibals in the woods and you see Lee Harris, played by Adina Porter, missing chunks of meat out of her leg and one of her ears is taken off and pickled. In the end of the season, everyone involved with “My Roanoke Nightmare” ends up dead except for Lee Harris.
Overall, every season in American Horror story is not only disturbing but can also become bloody and satanic. Over the past six seasons, the amount of gore has increased from season to season and the audience is loving it!
Why do we Love It?
Why is this, though? How can viewers watch people be killed on-screen and want to continue watching? What makes humans love horror movies, shows, and stories?
Normally, when asked these questions, the average person would conclude that people watch shows and movies like AHS because they like being scared. This scared feeling can cause adrenaline in the body which for many is a pleasurable feeling. It is common that horror movies can give you adrenaline from scaring you, this is a similar idea that comes from when others ask about why people ride roller coasters. Although this may play a part in why people enjoy horror, there could be other factors included.
Benjamin Bailey, a writer from the Nerdist, says that he believes a love from horror stems from other things besides adrenaline. He himself enjoyed his fair share of horror movies. In his article “Why Do We Love Horror?” he talks about the other factors that can lead to someone enjoying terrorizing movies and shows. He says, “Embracing horror is like shouting, “I’m not afraid of death, I’m entertained by it!” Our cultural love of horror is directly related to the reason people get Grim Reaper tattoos or wear t-shirts with skulls on them.” The world of horror movies can make people feel powerful because they are enjoying watching the death that is playing on-screen. From watching a gruesome scene on-screen, the viewer can feel like they are over death and that death can not reach them.
Similarly, Bailey also mentions that people’s connection to horror may just be because the events on-screen seem cool and entertaining. So, the answer can be as simple as saying “Well I watch horror films because it is awesome to watch.” Maybe that is how Murphy has kept his viewers captivated by giving the idea that ghosts, witches, freaks, mutants, and vampires are real. Maybe even his gory scenes can leave the audience in awe.
Even though there is no way to prove why a person falls in love with the horror genre, it is a fun topic to speculate about, because who doesn’t love a good scare every once in a while?