After a nine season run (with an upcoming tenth) American Horror Story spun off into a Tales from the Crypt style anthology, with each episode being its own story. American Horror Stories was initially met with a mixed reception.
Its episodes could be very hit or miss (much like seasons of AHS itself). But with the season being over (and a second already greenlit), we thought it would be fun to take a look at the season as a whole and rank each episode from the worst to the best!
6. “The Naughty List”
The major selling point for this episode (as well as the series itself) was that it features Danny Trejo as a killer Santa. And while that’s technically true, we have to endure over 30 minutes of the most unlikeable, annoying characters that are pretty insufferable.
Obviously the series intends for us not to like them and root for them to be killed, but the writing is so shallow that it’s more irritating than intended. Granted, we are treated to Danny Trejo awesomeness as he kills them, but that sequence only lasts a few minutes.
Ideally, them being horrible people should have been only a few minutes, and then the rest of the episode could have been the Christmas-themed slasher. It was an episode with great potential that squandered it by focusing on the wrong thing.
5. “Rubber (Wo)man”
Technically two episodes, but since it’s essentially one long episode, it’s only being counted as one. The initial frustration with this two part series premiere is that it once again relies on the familiarity of Murder House.
The series had promised exploring new ideas and stories, so it just felt all too clichéd that they went back to Murder House. The episode itself has a decent character arc for Scarlett. But the episode itself is held back by a few supporting performances that prove that just because someone is the child of a dynasty, doesn’t mean they can act.
This, along with the fact that this episode didn’t really do anything that the first season of AHS didn’t already do, it was just an underwhelming premiere.
4. “Game Over”
Just as the premiere of this season couldn’t resist going back to Murder House, neither could its finale. That said, at least this episode was done with a bit an nuance, and an attempt to move on. Giving Murder House a sense of finality was a noble pursuit, and a fascinating meta commentary from the series’ creators.
However, it gets a little lost in its “video game universe” where character interact with people from Murder House, but AHS is a TV show that exists. With just a few adjustments in its own story logic, it could have made a lot more sense.
This, along with the rest of the top three episodes, were exactly what this series should have been; great one off stories that pack a punch and leave us dazzled. With an impressive lead performance by Billie Lourd, this episode explores anxieties around parenthood, with a dash of demonic delight.
While it does feel a bit on the nose and “borrows” a little too heavily from Rosemary’s Baby and Paranormal Activity 2, it has some amazing practical makeup effects that should be the industry standard for all horror!
2. “Feral”This episode did a great job of using its wilderness setting to create a sense of dread and mystery. Its highlights are probably the best performance we’ve ever gotten in AHS from Cody Fern (while also getting to use his natural Australian accent).
It felt inspired by Wrong Turn, without ever outright ripping it off (the way that “Ba’al” did to its movie inspirations). And its final moments were legitimately chilling and unsettling.
1. “Drive In”
In a short season that was filled with a lot of disappointment, “Drive In” remains the standout as both a celebration of horror fandom and a commentary on the “video nasty” era of the 1980’s.
It features characters who seem very relatable to the type of horror fan watching this show, and asks very philosophical questions about the power of film itself and the ethics of filmmakers going too far. If every episode had been as clever and thought-provoking as this, it would have been a much better series.
Which one is your favorite and least favorite? Let us know in the comments!