Season 10 of American Horror Story starts off strong but began to falter along the way. The Ryan Murphy production tried something new this season by having two independent stories covered over 10 episodes. Hence, the title “Double Feature” for this season.
The first story “Red Tide” has a familiar horror backdrop. A couple with a young daughter moves in from New York to Provincetown, a small coastal town for the parents to find peace of mind to do their work, The father (played by Finn Wittrock) is a struggling TV playwriter while the mother (Lily Rabe) is very pregnant with their second child and a struggling home designer. Despite the familiarity if the environment and plot, this first story was really gripping thanks to its witty script and superb performances from AHS regulars. Evan Peters and Frances Conroy were simply a delight to watch as the town’s mysterious and sinister resident authors who croon mushy dated pop songs to an unappreciative audience in their free time. There is also Macaulay Culkin all grown up and giving an impressive performance of the town’s bum together with Sarah Paulson playing the town’s maniac. Another AHS regular Leslie Grossman does what she does best, as a fast talking bitchy Hollywood agent from hell. “Red Tide” was a winner from the first episode and a perfect showcase for AHS performers with the usual over the top gore and twists. It was however, unfortunate that its final act was a let down. It felt rushed and illogical. What could have been a perfect AHS story just fizzled out in its messy and unsatisfying final episode.
The second story “Death Valley” stylishly sets the stage for a retro black and white look as the story begins in the 1950’s with the then USA President Eisenhower being confronted by an alien abduction and threat. Some of the performers like Lily Rabe, Sarah Paulson and Leslie Grossman provide a welcome encore performance in this second story. The episodes are split into two sections, one telling the story in black and white for the 1950’s to 1970’s era, and the other in colour which follows a bunch of teenagers experiencing their close encounters during the present time. I have to admit that I did not like the part involving the present day as much as the black and white portion of the episodes. The noir style and deliberate attempt to emulate the tone and exeggerated camera angles of films made during the era were really well done. It was also fun to watch all those exploding heads in black and white and I can imagine how much more gory those scenes would have been had they been shot in colour! But alas, “Death Valley” suffers the same fate as “Red Tide” with a highly unsatisfactory conclusion.
All in all Season 10 of AHS felt like a mixed bag of tricks for me. There were many moments of brilliance especially in “Red Tide”, which at times made me feel like this was THE best season ever. However, there were also some terrible parts reminisent of the terrible quality seen in the recent spin off series American Horror Stories. I will just remember what was good about the season and try to block off the bad. No more Double Features in the future I hope. I prefer to have one full season well written all round like last season’s unforgettable Season 9 titled 1984.