Devil’s Night Service

Connor Taylor has brought the third instalment of his American Horror Story review, to life.  The review continues to address certain aspects of fear that relate to the show.  Connor is studying his final year in English and Creative Writing.

Halloween may have come and gone but the impact it had upon us is one which radiates outward with an air of awe. American Horror Story left us shaken over two weeks in October with the intrigue and surprise that amassed over us in the witching hour, and those few hours which fell within the harsh light of a swollen and mournful dawn.

On our third descent into the consideration of fear and phobias we will be looking over something which once again haunts us may we know it or not. This is beyond the fear of being alone and wider than the fear of being single: both of these strike a majority of people but not the outlying extremes. Our next fear however, slips over us all, but some people merely feel it earlier than others.

Gerascophobia

“Growing up and growing old is a fact of life. Growing old also isn’t promised, and if you’re lucky you can experience it. Some people don’t look forward to growing old and actually dread this stage of life. People who suffer from Gerascophobia have a fear of growing old. Being a little uneasy about growing old is completely natural.”

Perhaps the fear of growing old is in some way universal. AHS explores this universality and finds at its core this phobia revolves around an irrational detachment from reality.
In both episode four and five we felt the universality of this fear and the exploration of it through two channels.

Those who have already had their life pass by:

Saying that a collective bunch of, arguably, the most surreal serial killers known to the Cortez are relatable to us as the wider audience will probably be taken as an insult by some: yet it comes from the most rational thought. We have all felt at some point that we have wasted a day, wishing that we could go back and just occupy that empty space with something a bit more meaningful. We all want to be remembered and the thought of being obsolete, forgotten or a burden can be damaging to the psyche. So why not kill to be remembered?

Lily Rabe, as the very distinct and noticeable Aileen Wuornos, does an amazing job of sterilising our perception of twisted women. It is oddly refreshing to see her inhabit a character whom has a low and gritty mask, removed in some way from the cleanliness of a soft spoken voice. One of the best moments in Devil’s Night is our second run in with a drill shaped drill. This one however, is pressed firmly through a man’s skull, recreating the starkness of the Jeffrey Dahmer (Seth Gabel) case. John Wayne Gacy (John Carroll Lynch), The Zodiac Killer Richard Ramirez (Anthony Ruivivar) all lead a sinister cast towards a rather gruesome escapade and the death of another ‘low life’ type who by this point seem conveniently in plentiful supply without any accurate reasoning, other than it ‘just being a hotel guest’.
The thought of living solely to avoid the finality of ageing can be alien to some, however, draining.

Those who have their whole life to fear:
Both those who haven’t lived and those feeling like they’re at the end of their tether do not fear growing old; one from naivety and the other longevity.

Away from the extreme and the combat of Gerascophobia, AHS also can be regarded as exploring what occurs when the boundaries caused by the entrapment of human age is removed. Ep. 5 is a mash up of story at best. In honesty this episode seemed to simply shoe-horn relevant points which until a much later episode will most likely continue to be rife with tedium. It did raise interest though and created a precise contrast between Iris (Kathy Bates) and the primary conglomeration of newly immortal children.

Iris has had as much as she can take and is incapable of continuing simply because she has lost her drive and purpose. Unlike the serial killer guests, she does not turn to murder for escape and catharsis away from the fear. Until, the fear is removed.

Immortality is transcendent, removing us quite literally from the thing which unifies all of us: be it serpent or saint. In this state, removed from what holds and unifies us she is free, she lives and she overcomes, even if it is by slaughtering two pompous guests who, in all fairness deserved it (We apologise Darren Chris but you were a bit of a jerk).

Overall there appears to be a development in the most unusual characters and from what it appears this season of AHS has the leading role snatched away by our very own runner up Kathy Bates. Without the lingering storm of Jessica Lange she has stepped up to the mark and shines just as brightly, if not brighter than Gaga who we expected at least in part, to be something different to the cool and emotionless Countess.
The cast which had previously taken a back seat have finally rose to the forefront and the later we get into this season the more we question why they didn’t have a much larger presence and weight before.

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About spectralvisions

Spectral Visions is an annual Gothic conference hosted by the University of Sunderland. It explores the dark, the decadent and the terrifying aspects of Gothic literature and language. This blog is a student-run initiative, where Visionaries showcase their creative talents and learning in short stories, poems and essays on the Gothic. You can follow us on Twitter at @spectralvisi0ns or like us on Facebook at facebook.com/uosgothic
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