American Horror Story: Cult “Election Night” REVIEW

American Horror Story: Cult “Election Night” REVIEW

0 comments 📅08 September 2017, 08:23


Airing in the UK on FOX, Fridays, 10pm
 Ryan Murphy, Brad Falchuk
Director: Bradley Buecker

Essential Plot Points:

  • We open on a montage of the election campaign and, well…yeah it’s actually even more horrifying than it was at the time.
  • We cut between Kai (Evan Peters!) celebrating Drumpf’s election and Ally, Ivy and their friends the Changs watching the results roll in in horror. Ally is played by Sarah Paulson! Both AHS MVPs! One episode! Yay!
  • Ally winds up into a fully scale panic attack. Oz, her son looks worried and Ally and Ivy do their best to comfort him.

  • Kai humps his TV, then blitzes a bag of Cheetos and smears his face with them before confronting his sister Winter. She worked for Clinton and is terrified. They Pinky swear.
  • A young couple are about to have sex. One of them jokes about Twisty the clown and, well, Twisty appears and murders one of them. The other hides in an overgrown school bus but Twisty hears her 911 call go through, kills her and rips her tongue out.
  • Except does he?! Because it then pulls back to reveal Twisty is in a horror comic that Oz is reading. Ally asks to see what he’s reading, he shows her and… panic attack.
  • Her partner walks her, and their son, through it in a manner that’s compassionate and sweet and marks her out as so doomed by the end of the season.
  • Elsewhere, Thom Chang is running a meeting at city hall. Kai is the only person to speak on the issue. He delivers a monologue about fear and how it has currency and value. He finishes by yelling about truth, freedom and how fear is an evolutionary catalyst.
  • It does not go well.
  • As he leaves, he says ‘There is nothing more dangerous than a humiliated man.’
  • At her therapy session, Ally is unpacking just how badly her phobias are resurging. She talks about how Ivy, and wanting to be with her, is what got her through. He prescribes her a mild sedative.

  • Later, Ally goes shopping.The mart is deserted aside from a single teller in a MAGA hat. She begins hallucinating feral clowns to the point where they’re everyone she sees. One attacks her and she leaves the store, calling Ivy. She sees a clown in the backseat, panics, and crashes the car.
  • Later, at home, the police explain that nothing Ally saw was on the security tapes…
  • Ally and Ivy run a butchery and, at work the next day, Ivy explains that they’re starting to get into trouble. And not just in the business. She levels with Ally that she feels her partner is leaving her behind. Ally reassures her, and reminds her that they need a new nanny for their son, Oz. That becomes an argument where it’s revealed that Ally didn’t vote for Clinton, but for Jill Stein. They’re interrupted by Kai, who spills a drink on them ‘by accident’.

  • Their new nanny turns out to be Winter, Kai’s sister. We cut between her interview and a pinky interrogation from Kai. It’s done in such a way that the answers apply to both questions and is kind of brilliant. She gets the job and we know she really, really shouldn’t.
  • A group of Mexican workers meet outside a store, waiting to see who will get hired. Kai interrupts them, singing ‘La Cucaracha’ and filling a condom full of urine that he hurls at them.
  • They beat the living hell out of him, while Winter films it…
  • Winter asks Oz about his moms. She notices he’s drawing Twisty and asks if he’s ever seen a real dead body…
  • At the restaurant, Ivy and Ally are testing new dishes while trying to reconnect. Ally has another panic attack, hallucinating food that bleeds and a clown masturbating in the kitchen.
  • She absolutely loses it but, again, there’s no evidence. Not even the food. She admits that she hasn’t been taking her pills…
  • At home, Winter is showing Oz footage of murders on the dark web. When he asks to stop she explains it’s like a vaccination for fear. Despite it being the middle of the night he hears an ice cream van pull up. And the clowns that menaced Ally at the store all get out…
  • Ally and Ivy return home to find the house in the middle of a crime scene. They run through the barricades and find Oz and Winter fine. But the Changs, their friends who they watched the election with, have been murdered…
  • In flashback we see the clowns murder the Changs while Winter and Oz watch. Winter waits for Oz to be taken off by friends and then tells him that nothing he said was true.
  • The news is still awful, but given Oz’s history of night terrors, they believe him. Especially when the detective on the case tells them it looked like a murder suicide.
  • Later that night, Ally is woken up by a noise. She turns in bed and Ivy has been replaced by one of the clowns.


We honestly didn’t know how much we’d missed AHS until it came back. The show has, especially over the last couple of years, got fiercely good at what it does and this season looks to be no exception.

It also has an interesting, and disturbing, extra challenge to it this year. Using the election as a jumping off point is a tightrope that everyone in popular culture is having to walk, and few are doing well. So far, though, with the intensely tiresome murder of the Changs aside, this season is doing very well. It would be all too easy to have Ivy and Ally be perfect bleeding heart liberals. Instead, they’re nice people with levels of moral grey to them that already make them interesting protagonists. Ally voting for Jill Stein, Ivy’s brutal honesty about how she feels about the marriage and Ally’s inability to put Twitter down are all effective grace notes that drive both plot and character along. Plus Paulson and Alison Pill are both great and look set to be a rock solid anchor point for the season.

Evan Peters, as would-be cult leader Kai is, as ever, brilliant and this looks like the exact sort of monster that Hotel proved he excels at. Elsewhere, Billie Lourd impresses early as his deadpan sister and a bevy of familiar faces scattered across the rest of the cast suggest we’ve got some fun, nasty character arcs to look forward to.

Especially as, at least for now, this is a season set in our world. The most disturbing moment is nothing more than a hat being put on in an empty supermarket and the show has perfectly captured that slightly… off feel that the world has after political events like the election. The fact it’s managed to do this while still not letting the liberal side of the equation off the meat hook is as impressive as it is nasty. It parks the show not in the political central ground but in the exact space it’s main characters occupy; once familiar ground turned uncertain. Stress and anxiety as ever growing pressures. Something wicked not on its way but already here.

Whether the show can land this or not remains to be seen. Even we, who’ve loved the last couple of seasons of AHS, will admit its eyes tend to get too big for its stomach in the second half of each season. But for now, this is a great start for a new season.

The Good:

  • I’m just so scared now.’
  • ‘It’s all gonna be okay.’
    ‘…is it?’ – Just a perfect summation of where America is right now.
  • ‘What scares you the most?’
    ‘Honestly, Kai? You.’
  • The West Wing-ised theme tune is lovely.
  • The microwave playing the opening refrain of the theme tune is a nice touch.
  • The cast. All of them. Again. AHS genuinely knows how to get good performances out of people.

The Bad:

  • It’s a tiny niggle but one that comes up a lot with this show; they’re weirdly shy with names. It makes sense to keep the dialogue naturalistic when everything else is not, but it would be nice to get a ‘As you know, Bob’ every now and then.
  • The two Asian characters being murdered inside one episode is a lousy look, even for a show that’s clearly exploring racism this season.

And The Random:

  • Continuity time! Twisty the clown was last seen in Freakshow. Whether this is the same Twisty we don’t yet know.
  • Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk are the creators of American Horror Story, Scream Queens and Glee.
  • Bradley Buecker is a frequent Murphy and Falchuk collaborator and has directed large swathes of Glee, American Horror Story and Scream Queens amongst others.
  • Evan Peters and Sarah Paulson are frequent AHS flyers and did sterling work last season especially.
  • Cheyenne Vincent, playing Doctor Rudy Vincent here, is another frequent AHS flyer whose work in Hotel was especially great.
  • Alison Pill is best known for her work in Scott Pilgrim and The Newsroom. She’s amazing and AHS is a better show for having her here.
  • Billie Lourd first worked with Ryan Murphy on Scream Queens. She’s also played Lieutenant Kaydel Ko Connix in The Force Awakens and will reprise the role in The Last Jedi
  • Colton Haynes! The Arrow and Teen Wolf alumni is only on screen briefly here but we suspect there’s lots more to come.
  • Tim Kang is best known as Agent Kimball Cho from the much-missed The Mentalist. He deserved much better than a one episode cameo.

Review by Alasdair Stuart

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