AHS: Sirens (2021)

Though it’s proficiently-acted & nails aesthetics in signature AHS typography by its New England cottage-and-dune sea village, S10 bizarrely vampirizes, domesticates, & defantasizes/historifies sirens: failing one of horror’s most potential-rife topics. 5/10.

Plot Synopsis: The 10th Season Of American Horror Story, in a love-letter to fans whom were given the choices of topics across social media polls, consists of a Double Feature: Sirens and Aliens.

*Possible Spoilers Ahead*

Official CLC Review

A Fan-Chosen 10th Season Celebration

Along With Slasher-Camp & 1600’s Supernature, A Trinity Of Horror Topics – Potential Recognized By Fans ON IG/FB In AHS-Creator Ryan Murphy’s S10 Theme-Poll

Photograph Courtesy Of: FX Originals

Do you know how much we were looking forward to AHS: S10? From the first scene we saw in the basement of Murder House to the cumbaya/s’mores-gone-wrong of Camp Nightwing in 1984, we have been AHS fans to the death and fought bloody wars protecting its [oftentimes-mixed] seasons in the trenches. A 10th season is no small accomplishment; only a few TV series and, comparatively, single-digit percentages in the history of the small-screen have ever been able to hit the prize – especially in the hour-long, non-sitcom format. Nevertheless helped by its anthological horror architecture taking advantage of the millions of great concepts possible in the genre-of-scares, AHS made it and promised fans the ultimate victory-tour celebration: letting us pick the theme. The polls were stacked with amazing choices – from Bloody Mary to a Black Plague evoking PSTD from living in the COVID-19 Pandemic for over a year. One choice took the fandom by storm [quite literally]: Sirens. Evoking high-school lit. reminisces of pages of The Iliad & The Odyssey juxtaposed with sailors’ tales and urban legends as well as the history of exploration and existential drive of adventure, we’ve been gushing for years on how much extreme untapped potential there is in this topic. Luring and casting spells over ill-fated passers by with feminine beauty and musical enchantment only to be predators waiting in the wings, there is next-Jaws/Alien level pop-culture/box-office capability: centuries of lore just sitting there waiting on a studio to take the plunge. Ryan Murphy’s 10-Year IG/FB Social Media Polls [we hand-voted on] saw a clear-winner emerge in the topic, and quickly became our most highly-anticipated TV Series of 2021. That’s what made it evermore devastating when the premiere date came and we saw what was delivered.

No Mythological Or Historical References

From The Opening Scene, We Knew Something Was Wrong; Failure To Capitalize On The Centuries Of Mysticism/Lore Of Sirens Dating Back To The Iliad & Odyssey

Photograph Courtesy Of: FX Originals

This is AHS: 1984 all over again: last year’s S9 capitalization of one of the trinity settings of horror [in CLC’s vote: puritannical settlements, sirens, and slasher-camp] perfectly captured the aesthetics and feel by pure magic of behind-the-scenes work on everything from the prod. design to costumes to period recreation/authenticity along with its characteristically-strong cast, only to fail on the storytelling and execution. We love the aesthetics chosen for Red Tide; the New England / Cape Cod beach cottage-and-dune sea village setting is the perfect backdrop for sirens, brought to life by magnificent string-heavy orchestration and dark visual filters giving flavor and life to this story of dead meat. The acting is [as always] proficient in what we relish as AHS’ biggest intangible: its cast and genius anthological structure that plays as a method-actor’s dream, giving them new roles and characters every season to knock out of the park. Evan Peters as the pretentious douchebag playwright, Sarah Paulson as the convincing meth-junkie, Finn Wittrock as the struggling writer of desperation, and even a surprising cameo by Mackauley Caulkin who exec-produced the season pepper the landscape with fine performances. The writing is just as strong, meta-analyzing the craft itself with obvious care and projectivism through Harry’s predicament of network TV politics and the artist’s dilemma of seeking riches and fame like we all do, but also trying to make an impact and say something meaningful with their work.

The AHS Signature: Aesthetics & Marketing

As Usual, AHS Absolutely Kills It On Aesthetics: A Brilliant Modern-Day Setting Of The Icy Waters Of A New England Cottage-And-Dune Sea Village That Would’ve Been Perfect For [Absent] Sirens

Photograph Courtesy Of: FX Originals

There are insightful themes on drugs, fame, & predation and beautiful, poetic lines of dialogue like ‘[writers] don’t live in this world; they observe it, interpret it, and get inspiration from it to pen things all the people who do live in it can escape it through’. AHS – as any watcher making it to reading this review 10+ years later surely know – is a finely-constructed TV series on paper and by every technicality in the textbook of cinema. So.. why does it fail? I’m going to chalk this one up to false advertisement and boy-who-cried-wolf syndrome. How can you bait-and-switch your own fanbase on the eve of the 10th season celebration: promising them a choice, publicly claiming it will be honored, building the hype with signature A+ marketing-exec advertisements, and wielding the every budget and resource available.. and deliver.. this? We knew something was fundamentally wrong when the opening scene [and every minute of S10E1, progressively] was shot-on-land; this isn’t even Sirens. It’s not like it’s a very difficult or niche/unknown subject – heck, even a high-school diploma would’ve mandated art historical exposure to the Greek Mythological beings, and a view of Little Mermaid would’ve gotten you half-way there (without the horror, of course). Instead, AHS’ “Sirens” walk the streets of New England on-land.. rarely if ever going into the ice-chilled water currents mere feet outside their doors. Calling these creatures sirens is like calling the barista at your local Starbucks Rihanna: no matter how loud you yell and wish it to be true, it’s not. The most egregious and insulting bait-and-switch we’ve possible ever seen on television, AHS throws away its perfect intangibles and marketing/poll-promised potential on what’s really just vampires we’ve already seen 164890x before: down to the black-cloaked/pale-skin appearance, bloodlust, and night-stalking.

Themes & Wasted Intangibles

The Ciné Intangibles Are Characteristically Good: Cast, Writing, Sets, A/V, Etc. In Themes Of Fame, Elitism, Ambition, Blood – Agonizing By How Constantly AHS Wastes

Photograph Courtesy Of: FX Originals

Beyond morphology, environment, and topic authenticity, the eponymous vampyric creatures here are all dudes.. nary one female to be found amongst the group looking like a Nosferatu-themed metal-band by 40 y.o. mouth-breathers who do little but convulse and screech to [apparently was the goal: failed] scare us. The writers’ fundamental misunderstanding of what sirens are extends to the gender dynamics playing a huge role in the fictional concept and themes: femininity being one of the biggest reasons sirens work so well, allegorizing the beauty and grace with which these animalistic predators can lure men in with, only to rip you to shred once you’re firmly ensnared in their talons. This could’ve been the next Jennifer’s Body – 10x better by the aestheticization and leaving behind the misandrous undertones for maximum capitalization on the archetype of female-slashers/predator flipping the script on the otherwise reversed dynamic prevalent in the genre of final girls. Worse: there is comprehensive failure to excavate or reference ANY of the historical and mythological significance of the creatures whose entire lore is built on it: dating all the way back to early Greco-Roman civilizations. Even a damn one opening scene of an Odysseus-like crew bamboozled while sailing by Caprisian islands would’ve been enough to hyper-satisfy expectations before jumping to modern day to tell an easier land/modernized story. There is no plausible way the writers of AHS – even if this was an S1 instead of an S10 there’s 10x less excuse for – are this incomprehensibly stupid. Don’t even get us started on the fact S10 is a double-feature, fracturing the story, attention, and resources to do Aliens in the B-arc.. again after S2 and for the 795892025790x in pop-media on the biggest cliché in genre history. We don’t even have time to rampage on that.

A Bait-And-Switch

These Are Not Sirens.. These Are Domestic Vampires Deprived Of Any Semblance: A False Promise Inexplicably-Switched And Halved For Topics Done 759201X Already In Film/TV; We’re Tired Of The Lies & Done

Photograph Courtesy Of: FX Originals

What we’ve been given is a sirens TV show failing to cite or invoke even an ounce of the characteristics making them remotely appealing as a concept. American Horror Story is that one sh*tty dad who asks his kids what they want for Christmas, having them draw up lists only to bring them entirely different [knockoff-market] ones out of some bizarre superiotrity-complex flex or masochistic hatred for their own fanbase. AHS is also like that kid in high school with a genius IQ, legacy parents, and financial freedom with the ability to go to any college of his choice, but purposely writes the wrong answers to skate by with C’s and go to the local community college over Harvard just to f*** with them – or that abusive ex who manipulates you into believing they’re going to change, only to get worse as the years go by. The series consistently squanders masterpiece intangibles year-after-year and it’s like Chinese Water-Torture watching it if you’re a cinephile – made even worse by the fact whomever in the dept picking the concepts is an evil genius hellbent on tackling-then-ruining the greatest settings of potential in horror. The only oceanic horror here is the show itself: evil fishermen luring-in fans with beautifully-marketed/promised concepts, just to viciously yank you out of the water and slowly-suffocate you inhumanely to the preicipce of death each season and throw you back to do the same thing next year. We’re done with AHS. Though it’s proficiently-acted & nails aesthetics in signature AHS typography by its New England cottage-and-dune sea village, S10 bizarrely vampirizes, domesticates, casts anti-historical/mythological revisionism on, & defantasizes sirens: failing one of horror’s most potential-rife topics yet again by the ultimate bait-and-switch TV series antagonizing its fanbase and squandering its intangibles.

Official CLC Score: 5/10