Kirsty Capes reviews the eighth episode of American Horror Story season 6…
It seems as though episode 8 marks the beginning of the end for AHS 6. After some already harrowing scenes in episode 7, with the death of Matt at the hands of his wife Shelby and a crowbar, episode 8 ups the ante once again, with direction from Gwyneth Horder-Payton. The promise, mid-season, that only one will survive the gruelling three days in the Roanoke house is closer the being fulfilled with the deaths of more major characters in the most harrowing circumstances imaginable.
A noteworthy performance comes from Cuba Gooding Jr. this episode, as Dominic turns out to be more of a good guy than he would like to let on. He is a redemptive asset to the episode, which is otherwise filled with the most unbelievable gore. While episode 7 was extremely jumpy and, I thought, one of the most exciting episodes of the season, episode 8 sacrificed all moments of tension in favour of outright shock-factor content. Although almost every monster of Roanoke made an appearance in this episode – the colony, the pig-headed man, the ceiling-crawling girl, the nurses and the Polkes, there were really no moments of true fear, because they were all so out in the open. All suspense fell away in favour of sheer horror and some deaths that were difficult to watch, and almost gratuitous in their violence. We saw Lee have strips of flesh cut off of her by the Polkes, Audrey having her teeth pulled out, Shelby slitting her own throat and Dominic being battered to death by piggy man. Meanwhile, the cliffhanger of the Butcher’s colony waiting at the front door, having just put a cleaver through Kathy Bates’ head, at the end of episode 7, amounted to nothing as more pressing matters of unwatchable death scenes took centre stage. This is one of the problems of having a different director for each episode – they all want to focus on different things, meaning some plot details are left by the wayside in favour of others.
The whole episode was disjointed and more and more plot holes appeared along the way. I have a feeling there isn’t going to be enough air time to tie everything up. This episode was almost unwatchable in its attempts to disgust and horrify its audience. It wasn’t good horror writing, it was simply messy and unpleasant. I spent most of the time in this episode thinking about how unnecessarily unpleasant and repulsive it was and how better plot ideas and writing had clearly been sacrificed so we could watch Lee be eaten alive and Audrey slam a hammer into an old woman’s head repeatedly. I suppose repulsion is also a sign of a great horror show, but in my opinion this episode was all Saw and Hostel without any of the nuance or incredible characterisation that AHS is so famous for in the first place.