American Horror Story: Freak Show: Blu Ray Review
Released by Universal Home Ent
Released in time for Hallowe'en and also with the arrival of American Horror Story: Hotel, the fourth in Ryan Murphy's anthology series boasts one of the series' best nightmares.
Set in a Florida hamlet, and following the escapades of a travelling troupe of curiosities in the year 1952, this carny-set tale has a canny way of getting under your skin in its early episodes, before the mid-season slump hits and the season limps to a weak ending.
Tapping into the fears of clowns and the fears of what freaks you out that's different, the story of the performers and their lives is a great tableau and portrait of the horrors that men do. First up a smiling clown, who kills people and abducts others (aka Twisty the clown) is one of the greatest most unsettling creatures the series has given us since Rubberman of Season 1.
But as ever, there's tragedy lurking under the horror of all of these stories and the push for survival in a world that doesn't want them remains as pertinent a tale now as it ever did in 1950s America. Paranoia and mistrust blend together with a curiosities hunter who's trying to kill the freaks off and sell them for money, while hiding his own secrets.
With Sarah Paulson as a two-headed freak and Jessica Lange as the carny's leader fighting to stay relevant, there's much set up for rivalry and division. As the melodrama is ramped up to OTT, the series forgets its simple frightening MO and loses its effect and somewhat of its appeal in the second half of its execution.
For the most part though, American Horror Story: Freak Show is one of the anthology's best; its 13 episodes rivals the first season for shocks, but also delivers a story that while dripping with tragedy and tapestry, doesn't quite sustain its horrific thrust for fame and fortune and relevancy in a world that's ever changing.