American Horror Story Textual Analysis

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American Horror Story: Close Textual Analysis

In recent years, there has clearly been an explosion of the Gothic within the realm of television and cinema. Audiences are craving for more stories involving supernatural creatures; blood-thirsty Vampires become the “Friendly Neighbourhood Vampire”, Zombies become sympathetic. This general movement towards a Gothic with “friendly monsters” has been dominating particularly the television screen during the last 10 years. In contrast to this ongoing development, American Horror Story(FX, 2011-) appeared on the scene, clearly drawing on Gothic Literature and the Horror films that came before it. In regards to a close reading of this text, one has to keep in mind that the series is very much self-conscious
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The shot displays noticeable lens distortion and is filmed from a slightly higher angle. While the preceding shots made use of the Dutch angle, the lens distortion now compliments the visual excess that is apparent in American Horror Story’s cinematography. Furthermore, the distortion accentuates Sister Jude’s finger that is pointing towards the audience on an extra-textual level and Lana in a textual context. By directly pointing at the audience this particular shot almost gives the impression of breaking the fourth wall. In reading this shot one has to bear in mind that horror and particularly the slasher genre have traditionally suffered from a bad reputation; each year a myriad of horror films are released that just recycle the conventions, clichés or even narratives in the case of remakes of anterior films. Becoming a successful director in this genre means that one has to comprehend its spectator. The director has to excel at predicting audience’s reaction, misleading them with the goal of horrifying and shocking to experience the much sought for thanatotic pleasure. Sister Jude 's declaration "I see you for exactly who you are" is, therefore the director telling us that he is aware of the conventions and clichés and knows exactly how to manipulate and mislead his audience. This declaration becomes even more poignant due to the fact that Carrie’s(De Palma, US 1976) soundtrack “Bucket of Blood” is running in the background. Additionally, this particular shot contributes to the identification of the spectator with Lana due to the fact sister Jude is addressing both of them. This gothic layering of references to other texts within the text and the over-identification with the audience bring about a jouissance, a sense of over-whelming pleasure that brings about a self-loss. The following shot is

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