How far would you go to prove your sanity? How far would you go to protect yourself and your child? The latest episode of American Horror Stories “Ba’al” deals with both of these questions. And while it still has all the usual clunky-ness and lack of subtlety that AHS is known for, it might just be the best episode thus far.
Opening at a fertility clinic, we see Liv (Billie Lourd) and her husband Matt (Ronen Rubinstein) being told that unfortunately, the latest round of IVF treatments has failed, and Liv is still not pregnant.
Desperate to have a baby, she turns to using a creepy fertility doll given to her by a nurse (Virginia Gardner). 18 months later, she’s the mother to a baby boy, while Matt’s acting career seems to be taking off. On the surface it seems like everything was successful, but with a cost.
Drawing inspiration from Rosemary’s Baby, The Omen, and Paranormal Activity 2, we watch Liv slowly lose her mind. She struggles with motherhood, post-partum depression, and bears witness to creepy occurrences that makes her believe she is haunted.
It goes through the normal tropes of unsettling voices, glimpses of ghostly specters in the corner of her eye, as well as an encounter with a Ouija board. But as she questions her own sanity, there are more twists and turns that are genuinely clever and interesting.
“Ba’al” goes through an entire 3 act movie’s worth of material in just 40 minutes, and honestly it feels kind of rushed. This is the story that should have been two parts with a feature length runtime, unlike the series premiere was.
In terms of horror, “Ba’al” really shines in its practical makeup effects on the demon (which look absolutely amazing), and its practical effects. It’s simple, straight, and to the point, and is thus far the only example of American Horror Stories really using its format to its advantage.
It feels like it could have easily been a 90 minute movie produced by Blumhouse. Granted, it doesn’t do anything that new or interesting, but its ending is both fun and disturbing, and it knows which horror movies it wants to pay tribute to.
After several pretty disappointing episodes, “Ba’al” is a refreshing change that hopefully bodes well for future episodes.
What did you think of this episode? How do you feel about the series overall? Let us know in the comments!