After a lacklustre pilot, there was still the potential for the season to produce nail-biting suspense and shocking twists that was delivered in the previous seasons. After the airing of the second episode, however, it seems we will have to wait a little longer.
“American Horror Story: Coven” is set in the present day and although over three centuries have passed since the Salem witch trials, witches hide their magical abilities in fear of persecution. The story follows Zoe (Taissa Farmiga) who is sent to Miss Robinchaux’s Academy for Exceptional Young Ladies, a boarding school that shelters and teaches teenage witches. In this episode, Supreme Witch Fiona Goode (Jessica Lange) tries to discover Delphine LaLaurie’s (Kathy Bates) secret to immortality while Madison (Emma Roberts) attempts to repay Zoe for killing her frat infatuation Kyle (Evan Peters) with a particular magic spell.
The dialogue at times is laughable; I draw attention to a particular sequence with two detectives. It is used to tell the audience exactly what is happening in regards to other characters and the plot, instead of leaving those aspects unexplained and up to the audience to deduct. The events that unfold within the episode aren’t frightening, seeming more of a melodrama than a horror. Even in scenes clearly designed to inspire goosebumps, the setup is clichéd and gives too much away, ruining the payoff.
The edit tries to draw horror from a plain script, rapid cutting utilised to disorientate and confuse the audience. The camera is moving is often as possible, some moments rotating to add a surreal sense to moments of tension.
The performances are spectacular, especially Jessica Lange who struts about the Academy oozing self-confidence. It’s a shame her character hasn’t been offered anything to really allow her acting talent to shine.
The episode doesn’t leave the audience with an incentive to keep watching. It will be interesting to see where “Coven” will take us, but until they start improving their engagement with horror and suspense I fear the episodes aren’t going to get any better.
REVIEW SCORE: TWO STARS (OUT OF FIVE)
American Horror Story: Coven airs Monday nights on Channel Eleven.
Article by Hugo Monotti.