The haunted house, the formidable asylum, the creepy coven and now, the grotesque freak show out on Blu-ray so you can see the blood splatters in all their glory. Freak Show is possibly the goriest and most violent of the anthology series so far. For a show revolving around characters with physical deformities, it's a lot more psychological and psychopathic.
It's 1952 and one of the last remaining freak shows, known as Fräulein Elsa's Cabinet of Curiosities, comes to Jupiter, Florida. Jessica Lange takes the starring role as Elsa, the owner of the freak show camp and her many 'monsters'. A saviour, an exploit, and desperate to hold on to the glamour of performing on stage, Elsa is clinging on to a thread. She's trying to keep everything together whilst clawing her way to fame before time runs out.
Jessica Lange is as flawless as always, though it has become evident that she is playing a similar role in every season. It's becoming a little too obvious and a tad tiresome; it would have been awesome to see Kathy Bates take full reign in this series as a her character was by far more dynamic. Bates plays the Bearded Lady, Ethal Darling, who hides her own secrets and history from the camp. She also has her son Jimmy (Evan Peters) to take care of, who has a deformity of his own; one which he has learnt to exploit in his own way. We also get a double dosage of Sarah Paulson, who plays conjoined twins Dot and Bette. They may share the same body but they have two hearts and two completely different minds. Frances Conroy also appears, not as part of the freak show but as the mother of a truly disturbed man who becomes a little too fascinated with the freaks. If you’re a follower of American Horror Story then you will soon recognise a whole boat load of talented actors, though there are some brilliant newcomers also. Michael Chiklis joins the cast as Strong Man, Dell. With his own inner demons, Dell constantly battles them with his tough guy prowess but it soon becomes his biggest weakness. Neil Patrick Harris joins the show as a delusional ventriloquist who is too attached to his puppet (portrayed by AHS regular Jamie Brewer).
The actors have been lucky to perform on real sets built for the show, in which the series literally designed and produced a real life freak show camp that appears authentic. Both the make-up department and camera crew have surely had quite a challenge, but they have done an astounding job in transforming many of the actors to fit into this oddball world of outcasts. It must have also been challenging for the performers; Kathy Bates spending all day with an itchy beard couldn't have been comfortable, but that seems easy compared to the challenges Sarah Paulson had to face performing conjoined twins. With some brilliant camera angle choices and Paulson's ability to perform conflicting personalities that share the same body, this was made to look natural and easy.
These series of horror shows are normally set completely apart from one another with no interlinking stories or connections… until now. Freak Show finally makes that little connection to one of the previous series. Series mainstay Lily Rabe doesn't have a big role this season, but she does make one small appearance as we're transported to The Asylum and Rabe is back playing Sister Mary Eunice McKee. It's only one scene but enough to make a rather large and obvious connection between the seasons. It will be interesting to see if they make any more connections in later series.
Special Features: Five featurettes
AMERICAN HORROR STORY: FREAK SHOW / CERT: 18 / CREATOR: BRAD FALCHUK, RYAN MURPHY / DIRECTOR & SCREENPLAY: VARIOUS / STARRING: JESSICA LANGE, KATHY BATES, FRANCES CONROY, EVAN PETERS, SARAH PAULSON, ANGELA BASSETT, EMMA ROBERTS, MICHAEL CHIKLLIS / RELEASE DATE: OCTOBER 26TH