The dark and quarrelsome tone of the series

The first successive images of the episode “Pale” (10×02) of American Horror Story (Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk, from 2011) insist on an idea that often hovers over seasons of this FX TV series and, well, horror storytelling in general: how sinister a house can bewhich is where Murder House (2011-2012), Hotel (2015-2016) on its own level, My Roanoke Nightmare (2016) and certain episodes of American Horror Stories (Murphy and Falchuck, from 2021) are quite lavished.

Next, without wasting time in the slightest and if in “Cape Fear” (10×01) they had already shown us an elaborate sequence with a fast montage on home routine and a strident string score, here they reedit it; extremizing it, rarefying it and including the resource of the split screen. And all this in an unsettling prologue that recovers the continuous good rhythm and the dark and quarrelsome tone. of American Horror Story’s usual decent offerings.

A more solid episode of ‘American Horror Story’.


The resemblances of this part of Double Feature (2021) to the novels of Stephen King are accentuated in “Pale”; and there is then a rushing of the clock which is resolved by a visual decision that’s not necessarily novel but very thankfully so. And we owe both the solidity of the first scenes and that of the last one to the American filmmaker Loni Peristerewho moved up from visual effects on Buffy the Vampire Slayer (Joss Whedon, 1997-2003), Angel (Whedon and David Greenwalt, 1999-2004) or Firefly (Whedon, 2002-2003) to directing.

Thus, he has been in charge of seven television episodes in Banshee (David Schickler and Jonathan Tropper, 2013-2016) and two for A Series of Catastrophic Misfortunes (Mark Hudis and Barry Sonnenfeld, 2017-2019); of one of Castle Rock (Sam Shaw and Dustin Thomason, 2018-2019) and six of Warrior (Tropper, from 2019); or of the two installments of the episodic “Rubber (Wo)man” (1×01-2) from. American Horror Stories.

In “Cape Fear,” the gist of the horror genre that Double Feature tackles was known, since we are now resabitant viewers, but it wasn’t as explicit as in “Pale,” where abnormal behaviors ensue with the life-support of the impressionistic soundtrack composed by Mac Quayle (Mr. Robot), not far removed from that of The Newton Brothers for Midnight Mass (Mike Flanagan, 2021).

From ‘House’ to ‘Interview with the Vampire’ to ‘The X-Files’.

american horror story 10x02 pale recap ryan murphyFX

On the other hand, it still seems to us The sudden interest in the environment is still striking. natural in this season of American Horror Story, and it’s still exotic to our eyes in that regard.

But what manages to throw us off the most is that Loni Peristere, Ryan Murphy or Brad Falchuk have chosen for a sequence in this episode the song “Teardrop”, by the British band Massive Attack (1998), the same song heard in the header of House (David Shore, 2004-2012) only in the U.S.A. Is it about a conceptual wink to vicodin that the immeasurable doctor of the Princeton-Plainsboro University Hospital, a transcript of Sherlock Holmes, used to put between his chest and back to make his diagnoses work well? What an unexpected idea.

Not so much the fundamental motivator of violent behavior… of the characters; so far removed from the multi-homicidal nonsense in the gruesome 1984 (2019) and which we had perhaps not seen in American Horror Story since the experiments of Dr. Arthur Arden (James Cromwell) in that magnificent season that is Asylum (2012-2013); and whose elements remind us of what lies behind the mystery of the episode “Excelsis Dei” (2×11) of The X-Files (Chris Carter, from 1993).

We can’t consider such an idea something unforeseen, certainly, but that does not mean that it is not suggestive…. Even when heading, as it seems to do, towards the usual self-destructive decontrol; daring to repeat one of the uncomfortable moves of Interview with the Vampire (Neil Jordan, 1994). For our sake, may Double Feature continue like this.