American Horror Story: Season Four (Freak Show) (Blu-ray)

October 9, 2015 5 Min Read

Review by: Matt Brighton

Plot: What’s it about?

I’ll come right out and say it – I’ve never seen an episode of American Horror Story…until now. It’s a strange thing to dive into the middle of an already well-established series, though this one might be one of the few you can “get away” with. You see the series isn’t totally chronological and though some of the same characters persist through the seasons, each can stand on its own as well. That’s good, because I have no idea where my copies of the earlier seasons are.  This one is entitled “Freak Show” and, let me tell you, it’s an appropriate title.  I won’t bore readers with the details of the main cast of characters, rather let’s dive into the season and see what we might expect. Warning, it might get a little freaky.

The fourth season is set in Jupiter, Florida in 1952, and follows the lives of a troupe of people belonging to one of the last remaining freak shows of its time. Elsa Mars (Jessica Lange) is the owner of Fräulein Elsa’s Cabinet of Curiosities; and her performers, who she calls her monsters, include the bearded lady Ethel Darling (Kathy Bates), her lobster-handed son Jimmy Darling (Evan Peters), the strongman Dell Toledo (Michael Chiklis) and his three-breasted hermaphrodite wife Desiree Dupree (Angela Basset) (although it’s later revealed she’s not an actual hermaphrodite), as well as the newly recruited conjoined twin sisters Bette and Dot Tattler (Sarah Paulson).

Video: How’s it look?

The episodes are presented in 1.78:1 AVC HD image. This show looks excellent here, with a crisp, detailed image that never disappoints. The dark visuals within Briarcliff really shine, though of course the image is drained of color somewhat to bolster the dim atmosphere. Scenes that take place outside of the asylum are more natural and show more spark, so wherever the show takes place, this transfer more than delivers. I think fans will be most satisfied with this treatment, as the episodes look terrific.

Audio: How’s it sound?

The DTS HD Master Audio 5.1 soundtrack is superb, thanks to a creative and effective sound design. The design choices ensure that even the smallest sound is handled well, which creates an atmosphere that reels you in. The creaks and distant sounds of Briarcliff will really keep you on the edge of your seat. And when more imposing audio is needed, the track rises up and makes it happen. I love tracks like this, as both subtle and aggressive audio needs are well handled. The music sounds great as well, while dialogue is even and never lost in the other elements.

Supplements: What are the extras?

  • Getting Freaky: A Peek Under the Tent – Some cast and crew interviews are the highlight here, though there are some potential spoilers so this might be something to watch after you’ve gotten your freak on.
  • Two Heads are Better Than One – There are no shortage of “interesting” characters on this season and this highlights some of the more notable ones.
  • Twisty: Behind the Mask of Terror – I’m reminded of an episode of Seinfeld in which Crazy Joe Davila asks Kramer if he’s still afraid of clowns. If you weren’t before, you just might be after watching this.
  • Freaklore: The Specter of Edward Mordrake – Based on a real person, this segment focuses on the man with two faces (literally).
  • Extra-Ordinary Artists – One of the more robust supplements clocking in at nearly a half an hour, this profiles some of the aesthetic and make up challenges that were faced with this, uh…”eclectic” season.
  • Hollywood Freak Show Hollywood Premiere – Some red carpet interviews.

The Bottom Line

Odds are this show is for you or it isn’t. There’s really no in between. Fox’s presentation of this offbeat show sparkles in its fourth season with a  nice array of supplements and, of course, dazzling video and audio quality.

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