Why we’re so addicted to the series and it’s almost-cheesy-but-not, aerobics meets slasher film-themed season
American Horror Story is known to bring the gore, the sex, the horror, and showcase the best and worst in humanity. From Murder House to Apocalypse, the series is arguably one of the best at blending history with ~dark~ fantasy, and introducing audiences to multi-dimensional characters that no matter how insane, you root for or are, at least, intrigued by.
AHS reels in viewers with the madness and shock value as Ryan Murphy goes where no one else will. But we all stay tuned in for the narrative and its underlying themes that are always relevant and even necessary to explore.
This season, Murphy brings us AHS: 1984—the only instalment to not include Evan Peters, Sarah Paulson or Jessica Lange. Many were either disappointed by the absence of the show’s MVPs or curious to see how it turns out without them. Honestly, I would have loved to see Peters play a meek but murderous camp counselor, but I realized I’m a Murphy fan first. So, I will take what I’m given. Besides, he rarely if not at all disappoints.
1984, as the title suggests, takes us back to the 80s complete with opening credits that combines aerobics and slasher clips from yore, and a new synth bgm. The pilot episode opens with three horny summer campers about to engage in a threesome when a hulking killer stabs literally everyone to death and cuts off their ears as souvenirs. Flash forward to the retro future in an indoor aerobics class, where we’re introduced to a hot, young cast of characters: Emma Watson as Brooke, Billie Lourd as Montana, Cody Fern as Xavier (and newcomers) Gus Kenworthy as Chet and Deron Horton as Ray.
Xavier is the star aerobics instructor and leads the pack of spandex-wearing, shimmer stocking-clad crew. Montana’s character is obvs Madonna; she’s also an aspiring aerobics competitor. Meanwhile Brooke is best described as the last American virgin who has the hots for Chet, a would-be Olympian had he not failed a drug test. Last but not least, Ray, the nice guy of the group.
After class, Xavier tells the crew about his gig as camp counselor for the summer and invites everyone to come with. Besides, he reckons it’s better to stay out of Los Angeles before the Olympics come to town. Everyone says yes, save for new-girl Brooke, who has her summer plans all figured out (something about college and vet school?). Later, she changes her mind after a serial burglar, later revealed to be the Night Stalker, breaks into her apartment and threatens to kill her. Brooke fights him off with a frying pan (yes, like in Tangled) and he flees, saying, “I’ll find you! Satan will show me the way!” (Anyone else feel a Coven and Apocalypse crossover?)
“I’ll find you! Satan will show me the way!”
Everyone heads to camp aboard a Winnebago, ready for sex, drugs and a lotta summer fun. Along the way, the pack—too fabulously-dressed for the outdoors TBH, but who cares. The fashion in this series is pretty fire, like yes, we’re paying attention Xavier—stops over for gas and meets a creepy attendant who warns them of bad things that have happened at Camp Redwood. In true classic slasher movie fashion, no one listens. And that’s even after accidentally hitting an already injured hiker with their van, who weirdly freaks out about something else. Brooke urges the group to take him to camp, where they are welcomed by Margaret Booth (Leslie Grossman, Apocalypse), a “good” Christian woman who fled to the woods after losing an obscenity trial against Larry Flynt. Here, she plans to spend her days teaching children to embrace Jesus and reject Van Halen. What they didn’t know was Margaret’s past was the stuff of urban legends.
She was part of the bloodbath in the opening scene! The sole survivor of Mr. Jingles (John Carroll Lynch), she, with the grace of Jesus (her words, not ours), was able to play dead after the first stab and after the slasher took her ear off. Cut to much later that night, the pack is introduced to camp activities director Trevor, played by Matthew Morrsion. It’s established that he loves aerobics—and might even be semi-pro—as much as Montana does, and so it doesn’t take long before the two take off their clothes and hookup in the lake. But then a storm, as well as a mysterious car, interrupts their steamy encounter. Honestly, I thought it was Margaret, making sure nobody was having sex. BUT, through a brief flashback, we find out that it was actually Mr. Jingles!
He had escaped from a mental institution by pretending to be dead and killing a guard. He also releases the inmates to get everybody in a panic, kills the gas attendant on the way and steals his car. We also know that he’s out for blood, specifically Margaret’s, his sole survivor. He arrives at camp and a chase through the muddy woods ensues between Mr. Jingles and Brooke, who was out to get something from the infirmary. But then just as she gets to her friends, he disappears, making her look like a crazy person. Again, no one believes her, and poor Brooke goes to bed (just like that?). The payphone outside starts ringing but only Brooke seems to hear. Unsurprisingly, she goes outside to answer it and what does she hear?
The jingling of the psycho killer’s keys on the other end. But wait it doesn’t end there, the Night Stalker also seems to have found her and is lurking nearby!
Well, it’s Ryan Murphy. AHS: 1984 can’t just be your typical slasher TV series. You gotta throw a Satan-worshipping serial killer into the mix, too. And while the story doesn’t make complete sense at this point, we’re willing to overlook it for the aesthetic, the promising cast and the addicting insanity. AHS fam, we’re in for another crazy ride.
Art Alexandra Lara