Horror. Podcast. Off-beat.

First Impressions: ‘Coven’ (SPOILERS)



Last week, we watched the first episode (perfectly titled Bitchcraft) of “American Horror Story: Coven.”  Now, we enjoyed the first season, “Murder House,” well enough; though, some bits were unsettling to watch — mainly because I was seven months pregnant at the time.  “Asylum,” on the other hand, never grabbed us and we dropped off after watching three episodes.

From the first moment I heard the third season was going to be centered around witches, I got excited. That’s the great (brilliant, even) thing about “American Horror Story.”  The fact it’s an anthology TV show that creates new mini-series style stories every year means you don’t have to watch everything to keep up.  Not digging the season? No worries, give the next season a shot.

And with all that said, I think “Coven” has tremendous potential…

coven - kathy batesIt has a powerhouse cast.  Of course Jessica Lange is going to be brilliant, as she was in the first season (and even in the three eps I saw of “Asylum”).  But add Kathy “Annie Wilkes” Bates to the mix and I’m automatically in for the long haul.  And, the gorgeous Angela Bassett as a voodoo queen?  I swear that woman does not age.  Plus — AHS vets like Evan Peters, Lily Rabe and Sarah Paulson, AND Emma “Julia’s Niece” Roberts and Gabourey “Precious” Sibide.

coven - taissaTaissa Farmiga. In the first season, she played Violet, the depressed outcast girl who falls in love with the psycho boy next door, who also happens to be dead. For me, Violet’s relationship with Tate (said pyscho boy next door) was the most intriguing part of “Murder House.”  It was gentle and sweet — and also pretty weird.  And it looks like they are back together for another unusual love story.

The Plot.  We knew “Coven” was to be about witches.  In New Orleans. With a predominantly female cast.  But for a while, it felt like that was all we knew.  Once the plot details rolled out, I could really see the story fleshing out into something I really wanted to see.   It’s a finishing school for girls that’s really a safe haven/school for witches.  Conflict emerges when it appears that a war is brewing between the old-school Salem-style witches and the voodoo-y New Orleans witches.  Paulson and Lange (playing daughter and mother) run the safe haven/school and are basically charged with preparing their girls for battle.  It’s kind of simple in a way, but still interesting.  In contrast, “Asylum” had too many plot points that it felt muddled and incoherent.

coven - promo stillThe Witches.  Witches, like zombies, vamps, werewolves and the rest of the horror criterion, have been used time and time again across the board in all mediums.  We get them. They’re all about spells, potions, brooms, pointy hats, etc.  Generally speaking, witches are cool and all, but it’s nice when you see something that flips the standard a bit.  I’m partial to the 1990 film adaptation of Roald Dahl’s The Witches, mainly because it set different rules for witches — they don’t have toes; they have purple eyes; they’re bald; and they can smell children (who basically smell like shit).  Well, “Coven” isn’t that defined, but they did something interesting.  The girls/witches at the school all have different sets of powers.  One is psychic.  One has super-strength telekinesis.  One is basically a living voodoo doll. And one kills by sex.  So, in essence, they’re like the X-Men.  More specifically, this ‘safe haven’ is like Professor Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters.  “Coven” makes these girls a team — and presumably by doing so, they’ll eventually be put to battle.

So, there you have it.  Just a few impressions for you.  If, like us,  you’re watching this season, I think we’re in for a treat.  A delightful trickery treat.  And I can’t wait to see more.

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