If you’re an avid American Horror Story viewer who happens to be scared of clowns and/or Donald Trump, you probably won’t be sleeping tonight. But if by chance you haven’t watched the premiere of AHS‘ latest fear fest, look no further. I’ll give you the lowdown without too many spoilers, and tell you exactly why this season of American Horror Story is going to be the creepiest, most intense yet.
Let’s Begin With Election Night
Unlike Season 6, Season 7’s theme was no mystery. And while many AHS villains, even themes have been based on reality, none have felt so real as this one. Though the official title is Cult, this season has also been referred to as Election or Election Night, and it really isn’t a surprise. The season opens with two opposite reactions to Donald Trump’s win. We see Kai, played by the incomparable Evan Peters, literally humping the television screen. He almost appears to be praying, relieved at the turn of events and finishes his celebration by blending a bunch of cheetos to create orange face paint. Though Peters has played disturbing characters before, none of them come close to Kai.
On the other end of the spectrum, we have Ally, played by the transcendent Sarah Paulson, who could not be more terrified of Donald Trump’s win. Refusing to believe it until she hears the words uttered, her friends share in her fear, but not to the same extent. The results of this election trigger Ally’s deepest anxieties, anxieties she believed she had laid to rest. Fear of closed spaces, fear of holes, and above all, fear of clowns. And while clowns are scary enough on their own (cough cough, Twisty, cough cough), it is what they represent that makes them truly terrifying.
When Chaos Reigns, What Is Real?
This is the question that Ally faces. She begins to see clowns everywhere. Whether they are simply near her, grotesquely engaging in sexual acts, or actively trying to murder her, she sees them everywhere. And yet she is the only one. Is she hallucinating? Or has the world gone mad? Paulson is a genius, and maybe it’s a little too early to say, but this might be her best character since Lana Winters. She evokes great empathy and serves as the perfect protagonist. Her fears shared by so many of us, even if the extremity is not. I cannot tell you how many times I hear what’s happening around the world and feel as if it has to be some kind of trick. Some kind of nightmare that I just can’t wake up from. And that’s coming from someone who doesn’t live in the States. I can’t imagine what it’s like being there.
AHS Is Playing On Our Current Collective Fears
The past seasons have been scary, of that there is no question. But there’s always been a disconnect, something that acts as a barrier. For me, it’s a way that I can take a breather and say, “this isn’t real, there is no reason to be scared”. Ghosts, vampires, specific haunted grounds, past historical events, each season gives the audience a reason not to be scared, even if you have to look for it. But where is that reason now?
Season 7 is not about ghosts. It isn’t about a haunted house or a vengeful spirit. No. Above all, it is about fear and hatred. Fear that drives our society. Hatred that we see in so many disgusting acts taking place in what we call a first world country. Why is Cult so terrifying? Because it is so real. Even the clowns aren’t really an exaggeration. Not so long ago, many were donning clown masks in every day life! Some moments will be exaggerated, certain moments will have never taken place. But the fear is very real. And that’s what’s so terrifying.
I don’t know about you, but I doubt I’ll be sleeping at all on Tuesday nights anymore. Thanks, FX. Really needed this in my life. And as for those of you who haven’t watched the premiere yet, believe me. If you do not like clowns, go into this with caution. Creepy doesn’t even begin to describe what you’re going to see.