American Horror Stories: “Feral” Review

After dealing with familiar haunted houses, a killer Santa, and fertility demons, the penultimate episode of American Horror Stories deals with the great outdoors, and the terrors that lie within.  “Feral” is another strong contender, following the refreshingly good episode last week.

Family Tragedy
Opening with gorgeous cinematography of a national park, we see a car driving up a winding road (in a shot that mirrors that of the The Shining).  In the car is married couple Jay (Aaron Tveit) and Addy (Tiffany Dupont), with their three year old son Jacob.

The bowl cut has to be a reference to Danny in The Shining

However, tragedy strikes as Jacob disappears, simultaneously with Addy discovering the mutilated corpse of a deer.  Ten years pass and both Jay and Addy are shells of their former selves, never fully recovering from the loss of their son.

Jay is then approached by a hunter Bob (Blake Shields), who claims to have information about his son, and offers to take him and Addy into the wilderness, for $10,000 of course.

Given the fact that their marriage ended after losing Jacob, the trek is awkward, to the say the least.

AHS Meets Wrong Turn
The journey deep into the National Park leads Jay, Addy, and Bob into a world of cryptozoology, and inbred cannibals.  Last week’s episode felt heavily inspired by such supernatural gems like Rosemary’s Baby and Paranormal Activity 2, while “Feral” feels very much inspired by the Wrong Turn franchise, in both good and bad ways.

On the one hand, the scenery itself is both filled with amazing cinematography, and its vastness becomes a foreboding character itself.  That said, it drops a whole lot of exposition and mythology in a very quick amount of time, and with not much time left in the episode.

Though we are treated to AHS regular Cody Fern using his natural Australian accent.

With only a 40 minute runtime, the most interesting and exciting moments really only happen in the first and last 5-10 minutes.  Which is only just an argument that these episodes should be longer, or that any other narrative, other than the premiere better qualified as a two parter.

That said, it is genuinely creepy when it needs to be, and the scares wind up being far more subtle than what is usual for this series.  Honestly, its biggest disappointment was that the brutal “reveal” and final minutes didn’t take up the bulk of the episode.

You could spend a whole season here…

What did you think of this episode? How do you feel about the series overall?  Let us know in the comments!

AHS 5American Horror Stories is streaming exclusively on FX on Hulu

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