I know the showrunners don’t have much say in when a particular episode airs, but it’s always nice when the setting and general theme of what you’re watching matches the time of year – and nothing marks the end of what has truly been the longest summer ever better than a good old spooky lake story.
“Lake”, the last episode of season two of American Horror Stories, feels very useful in that it brings together some of the best elements often associated with the horror genre. It offers several cautionary tales (don’t be a “bitch” / greed is bad / your husband will probably kill you); it takes place in a town with a dark, supernatural, and vaguely explained history; and it has a cast including hot new faces for the youngsters and nostalgic stars from a not too distant past for fans like me who would, at any time, prefer to watch the original Scream movie about just about anything else.
Alicia Silverstone has aged gracefully after playing virgins who can’t drive, but seeing her as Erin, an affluent mother willing to snap scuba fins to retrieve her dead son’s corpse from a lake, c ‘is delicious. While most remember Silverstone for her role as Cher Horowitz in clueless, she is certainly not new to horror. Since his breakout role in the 1993 film The crowd a brief blink of an eye in 2022 Scream as Tatum Riley in the movie-in-the-movie, Stab, she proved she could run and scream with the best of them. As with other actresses of her time, her horror roles often crammed her into the easily marketable box of “unhinged woman freaking out about something,” but in “Lake” she’s the one. in charge. It is she who saves the day. It’s good to know that after almost 30 years of almost exclusively using women as screaming pieces of meat, they have the chance to be saviors from time to time. And of course Silverstone’s character Erin is informed for the majority of this episode by her husband and local law enforcement, but the story wouldn’t be as true to life without those elements, isn’t it? it not?
“Lake” opens with a familiar horror scene of a group of teenagers in a boat on a lake. In what is probably a nod to the Scream franchise, this particular lake is in a vacation town called Prescott which got most of its money from the construction of an armed dam by the infamous Wrede Prescott. The construction of this dam, championed by Prescott and others seeking to profit from it, flooded a town once known as Reedsville, and it was above this town that Erin’s two teenagers, Jake (Bobby Hogan) and Finn (Olivia Rouyre), are floating in this boat.
We don’t learn much about Jake before his death, as he is almost immediately killed. Before diving into the lake in an attempt to explore the sunken ruins of Reedsville, he explains to his crush, Hayley, that the drought has lowered the water level to such a degree that what was once an impossible depth diving is now, thanks to the wonders of climate change, easily accessible. He tries to get her to dive with him, but his sister, Finn, blocks the situation with a warning that Hayley is a bitch, which is rude all around, of course, but ultimately saves the girl from seeing this poor young man sear. by the swollen arm of a doomed lake ghoul.
As Jake explores the lake with his sister swimming behind him, he finds a rusty tricycle, then fixes on a sign for a store or product from long ago. As he shows the sign to his sister, something clings to his ankle and doesn’t let go. Finn swims to the surface and screams for help, but it’s no use. As she swims back down, she catches a final glimpse of her brother as he is dragged by unseen forces to his death.
Flash forward four months, and we learn that this experience caused Finn to spend some healing time at a psychiatric clinic. Even when she is back home with her family, things are not going well. She is obsessed with the loss of her brother, as anyone would be, and asks her mother what was buried in the coffin at his funeral, since his body was never found. “Memories,” Erin said. What kind of memories? Brown Crocs, Pokémon cards, and a tryout at Disneyland, ultimately. How to treat this type of asshole in public after everything he’s been through. Poor Jacques.
Without the help, mental or otherwise, of Erin’s husband, Jeffrey (Teddy Sears) – who AHS fans will recognize his role as Patrick, half of the gay ghost couple in American Horror Story: Murder House— Erin can’t help but focus on the details of her son’s death. It gets even worse when she begins to see the murky water of the lake in what should be a freshly drawn bath and is visited by the apparition of her dead son near their pool.
Having now seen all the episodes in the world of AHS, I find myself, with each viewing, reminded of a series of books that I read when I was a child. Of course I can’t remember the name of the series, but they were slim books that each told the story of an animal and that animal’s friends going through some sort of experience that would lead to a big moral to the end. Do not discredit American Horror Stories anyway, because the format turned out to be the one that works, but every episode of both seasons one and two is in the same vein as those books – with the twist or “moral” coming in the last ten minutes . If I had to give a note, it would be that the timestamp could be pushed back a bit to even out the windup with the pitch. The beginnings are great. The endings are usually excellent. But a lot could be gained by more frequent addition of a middle.
By the time Erin and Finn determine that Lake is out for revenge on anyone in Prescott’s bloodline, and that Jeffrey and Finn are (somehow) secretly part of that bloodline, only a few remain. minutes to wrap it all up, and it seems a bit rushed. . Fun? Still. But rushed. The shape of American Horror Stories — cram a full narrative into under an hour — must be tough, but maybe in season three some fat can be carved out to make room for that missing middle. Still, I’m looking forward to next year and wouldn’t dream of turning my back on this show no matter what. As if!