The unsettling choices of American Horror Story

As with all things, I was way behind the times when it came to American Horror Story. A show about the deranged, supernatural, and all things horror should have been something I jumped on immediately, but alas I didn’t. For the past few months my boyfriend and I have been obsessed with AHS. As we got to the ending of series 3, I had become a dedicated fan of this macabre series. Each season is it’s essentially a miniseries that has its own plotline. Many of the actors are re-occurring but with different parts, like the fabulous Jessica Lang and Sarah Paulson.

Although I do enjoy a good twisted storyline, it’s the meticulously chosen music that helps elevate the stories from horrible to terrifying. Rarely used, but always effective.

Murder House

An homage within an homage. Tate Langdon (Evan Peters) has apparent dreams and visions of him walking through the halls of his high school before shooting several of his classmates. These scenes are set to the unsettling ‘Twisted Nerve.’ Here the tune is used in Murder House as a nod to Quentin Tarantino, the favourite director of troubled student Tate.

Twists! Surprise! Langdon has been dead for over a decade. Since Kill Bill Vol. 1 (in which this song appears) wasn’t released until 2003 the reference doesn’t completely work. It could, however, also be a reference to the 1968 psychological thriller in which the song takes its name. Either way, Tate might have a good taste in film, but he’s probably not a great person to keep around.

Asylum

The key to making someone’s skin crawl? Nuns. The second season of AHS gave just that. Set in an insane asylum in the 60’s, head nun Sister Jude (Lange) insists on playing the same ‘Dominique’ record over and over again. If they were crazy, they will be after listening to this song more than the recommended dosage.

The story or legend, rather, behind The Singing Nun (unfortuately not this one) is just as unsettling as the scenes the song illustrates. The story behind our nun, Jeanine Deckers, is that she was forced to leave the church after disagreements with her superiors. She moved in with her childhood friend Annie Pecher with whom she was very close with until the two committed suicide together in 1985. A charming story.

Coven

Witches are cool. Black magic has made the rock and roll music your parents have frowned upon for decades. Series three follows a coven of witches in Louisiana and there is no shortage of perfect music choices. Misty Day (Lily Rabe) is a swamp witch obsessed with Stevie Nicks. She’s convinced that Nicks is really a witch, sighting the Fleetwood Mac song ‘Rhiannon’, which was often introduced by Nicks as a song about a Welsh witch. Meanwhile, the show also deals with racism in the South. Witch Queenie (Gabourey Sidibe) forces Delphine LaLaurie (Kathy Bates), a socialite from the 1800’s, to watch both Roots films and eventually plays a montage of Civil Rights footage that is set to the utterly moving version of ‘Oh, Freedom’ by The Golden Gospel Singers.

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