October 10, 2013

American Horror Story: Coven

"A young girl, Zoe, is shattered to discover she possesses a strange genetic affliction tracing back to the dark days of Salem. Zoe is whisked away to Miss Robichaux's Academy for Exceptional Young Ladies, a mysterious school in New Orleans devoted to safeguarding the few remaining descendants who share this unique bloodline. Harboring a secret agenda, Fiona Goode, the most powerful witch of their generation, returns to town, reigniting old rivalries with the Coven's deadly enemies, the Voodoo."

"American Horror Story" is back with a third season! Meh. To be honest, I've been so caught up in horror movie reviews that I'd forgotten it even existed. I rarely watch television anyway if I can possibly help it.

Although I didn't like the second season as much as the first, and I didn't know they'd made another one until it suddenly appeared last night, I felt duty bound to at least watch the first episode and ogle Sarah Paulson. I'll not be watching any more until I can buy the whole thing on DVD because I loathe commercial breaks with every fibre of my being.

If "Coven" isn't enough of a clue for you, the oh-so-witty title of the first episode—"Bitchcraft"—reveals that this season is all about witches. Think of it as "The Craft" meets "Harry Potter" meets "Suspiria" meets "The Skeleton Key" with lots more pop-culture witchcraft references thrown in for nerds on message boards to feel clever about spotting. As it's set in New Orleans, it's probably also going to have a ton of Anne Rice stuff in it which I'm never likely to notice.

The biggest news is that Kathy Bates has joined the ensemble cast as the notorious serial killer Delphine LaLaurie, who is so "notorious" that I had to use Google to find out who she was. Call me ignorant if you like, but I don't know anything about famous American witches other than the place name of the Salem witch trials, and I could count the serial killers I've heard of on the fingers of one hand. Neither is really my thing. Aside from what I've learned from movies, I have about as much interest in witches, serial killers, or American history as I have in sticking an unpeeled orange up my arse.

As far as I can tell from one episode and the trailers, "Coven" looks like it's going to be a taco fiesta, In other words, it's severely lacking in any male characters who aren't disposable. Evan Peters turned up just to be killed off (thank you!), but with the knowledge that Lily Rabe's character can resurrect the dead (even though she was killed off too!), he's bound to return. Be prepared to see your Twitter feed explode with angry trending Tweets from Evan Peters' tweenage fangirls if he doesn't!

Obviously, my least favourite horror clique in the world are already stomping their little feet with glee and squealing about "Girl Power", and that's more than enough to put most horror fans off "Coven". But let them have their moment away from making sandwiches because you can guarantee that very bad things are going to happen to the witches in this show. One of them (played by Emma Roberts) has already been gang-raped by frat boys, another burnt at the stake, and I can easily predict the poetic justice that will end Jessica Lange's career as a "Supreme" witch. I'm thinking it will be the same as the end of Hammer's "She" (1965) but with better effects.

For those who stay with it, "Coven" promises to be another mixture of unpolitically correct dialogue and MA-14 situations which push the limits of what the TV censors normally allow. Based on previous seasons, I highly doubt that there will be any taboo subject which is too distasteful for them to cover, especially as the return of the Down Syndrome girl from the first season and the morbidly obese star of "Precious" (2009) complete this Ryan Murphy/Brad Falchuk freakshow. Hopefully, there'll actually be some horror in it this time too!

"American Horror Story: Coven" will air every Wednesday on FX at 10pm. Check out the official website for further details.

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