American Horror Story likes to take tropes we see in popular horror and add its own spin. This has proven to be a success, but also a failure for fans. American Horror Story: Cult now looks at fear itself, and looks at how it is affecting the world around us…oh and yes, it also features clowns.
Taking us back to election night, we witness the extreme reactions to Donald Trump winning the election. On one side, we have Ally (Sarah Paulson) in tears and fear of what is to come for her small family. On the other side Kai Anderson (Evan Peters), jubilant that Trump has won. Both having extreme reactions to the fear the election brings, what will happen when the polar opposites clash?
The first episode of American Horror Story: Cult has one job to do, and that is set up what we have to expect from season 7 of the popular show. Typical to previous seasons, we have hints, but not much else. One of the main themes that is strong though is fear.
To Ally, fear is an intense thing, in fact she appears to be scared of everything. The most intense way this is shown is through phobias. One of the strongest she has is Coulrophobia, the fear of clowns. This manifests itself not only in an intense reaction to a Twisty the Clown comic, but also the fact she appears to be stalked by clowns.
The question about the clowns though is, are they real? The only person (at first) who sees them is Ally herself, and they do fairly extreme things. Even if a group of clowns are terrorising her, some of the things are questionable. They are arguably doing things that you would assume are made up in Ally’s head. Though at the end of the episode, things occur that hint that they may be real.
The character of Ally is a very annoying one, but that is the whole point of the character. Just as Kai is similarly annoying. He is a “deplorable” in every way, but most importantly an extreme way. He isn’t a creation used to mock Donald Trump fans, he is more a caricature of what people think he should be, as is Ally. For those worrying that American Horror Story: Cult is a way to bash Trump, then they should stop worrying. This is more of a satirical look at how everybody has reacted to the election, and pokes at both sides for material.
While there are hints as to where American Horror Story: Cult is going, it feels too soon to say. Winter Anderson (Billie Lourd) working herself into Ally and her wife Ivy’s (Alison Pill) home to manipulate their son is a hint, as is Kai’s almost Manson like speech about how fear should be used as a weapon to control the people. This is where the “Cult” could be born, and it is one based on modern-day fears, many that are pulled off the meme obsessed world of the Internet (clowns appearing on the streets, creepy phobias etc.).
Election Night is an interesting start for season 7 of American Horror Story because the tone feels different than past years. More focused on what fear means, it isn’t just simply “well this year it’s a haunted house” or some other trope. If the focus stays on fear, and what it means in modern-day society, then this may be an interesting season indeed.
American Horror Story: Cult airs in American at 10pm on FX and in the UK on Fridays 10pm on Fox.