American Horror Story: Coven

Seems like witches are the new vampires. Sure, witches have been a part of movies and television for almost as long as movies and television have been around. But just like everything else, the popularity of witches seems to by cyclical and the cycle has come back around.

I've already forced myself to sit through an hour of the god-awful Witches of East End and despite the title, there's nothing magical about it. So to cleanse my palette of that atrocity, I decided to check out American Horror Story: Coven, hoping it will have the kind of witches I was looking for. Admittedly, I've never seen an episode of American Horror Story before this but I continually heard nothing but good things about it. Watching the first episode of Coven, though, makes me wonder if those things are true.

Madame Delphine LaLaurie (Kathy Bates) is a sadistic Southern aristocrat whose daughter has defied her so she takes her houseslave and turns him into her own personal Minotaur. A hundred and eighty years later, teenager Zoe Benson's (Taissa Farmiga) boyfriend dies mid-coitus, prompting her mother to tell her she's a witch and that she's being sent to New Orleans to a boarding school for girls like her. Fiona Goode (Jessica Lange) wants to look younger and be more vivacious, so she approaches a scientist who's working on an experimental drug that will provide her with just that. But when the drug doesn't work, she drains his life essence in a cocaine-addled rage.

So far the show has been pretty intense and well-direct, presented through a very dynamic shot structure. But the big thing that I'm noticing is the gruesome imagery the show relies on. At every turn Coven gives me something that turns my stomach, not just with horrifying visuals but also with the violence it inflicts on the characters. One such instance is a girl being gang-raped by a bunch of fraternity guys. They don't show the scene in extremely graphic detail but it is presented in such a way as to make the audience cringe and, indeed, I could barely watch the scene. Is the creator's intention to make their audience look away? If so, I'm afraid to see what the rest of the season has in store.

One aspect of Coven I did enjoy is their inspiration from the past. They managed to work the story of Madame LaLaurie, a true-to-life Louisiana socialite that was as sadistic as the show portrays. Though they took a few liberties with the details of her death, at the hands of famous New Orleans voodoo priestess Marie Laveau, this part of the show impressed me. It's probably the only positive thing I can say about Coven so far.

I was looking for a show with real witches and it seems that I got what I asked for in American Horror Story: Coven. Though I'm not sure how long my interest in the show will last. I'm not a squeamish person by any means but I had a hard time watching Coven. I intend to watch at least the second episode just because I am interested in seeing how the Madame LaLaurie storyline plays out, but in reality, I can't see myself going much further than that. American Horror Story: Coven is just so different from what I want out of a television show. It's basically prime-time's answer to the Saw movie series, a long string of gore horror held together by a flimsy plot. But after two successful and highly lauded seasons, I might be singular in my view of the show.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...