American Horror Stories Season 2, episode 1 review: House of the living dolls 

A promotional picture for American Horror Stories (Image via Hulu)
A promotional picture for American Horror Stories (Image via Hulu)

Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk's latest anthology series, American Horror Stories, returned with its second season on July 21, 2022. Unsurprisingly, the premiere episode of the latest season struggled to match up to the brilliant American Horror Story by the same showrunners. However, there was ample potential in the episode.

The episode was based on the creepy premise of a rich obsessive man imprisoning people in his made-up dollhouse and dressing them up as dolls. The episode managed to do fairly well for the most part, especially its beginning, but it failed to hit the mark in every other aspect.

American Horror Stories features separate stories in each episode, each of them being self-contained entities. The first episode of the second season is titled Dollhouse.

Read on for a detailed review of the first episode of American Horror Stories season 2.


American Horror Stories season 2, episode 1 review: Fascinating premise let down by a sudden ending

This was one of the better episodes of American Horror Stories. In fact, a few episodes in the first season did what this one did. While the build-up, acting, and atmosphere were spot-on, the ending seemed to come too soon and the twist was left majorly unexplained.

With its eerie minor melodies, warm-tinted color scheme and delicate shots of a doll-maker making a doll, the beginning was creepy enough to give chills to veteran horror enthusiasts. The story began with Denis O’Hare and Kristine Froseth taking over the majority of the screen time, joined by a brilliant Houston Jax Towe.

The initial unfolding of the mystery after Coby was kidnapped was one of the most interesting things about the episode. The doll-maker tried to force the young ladies to do chores and punished or killed them when they failed.

One of the things that the episode failed to make an impact with was the story of Coby's powers. Time and again she was shown performing some psychic feats, but as the series did not spend enough time explaining it, the premise lost quite a bit of its charm.

However, things building up to the end were extremely good, with multiple twists, some tight pacing, and great acting. Perhaps this episode would have been far more complete, and far scarier too if the episode ended with Coby being converted into a doll.

At the same time, bringing the witches at the last moment to come and save Coby made little sense, despite its metaphorical indications. Moreover, most viewers will not be able to decipher any of the deeper meanings here.

Of course, the ending tried to create another mystery and link it to the main storyline but even that wasn't clear enough.

The sound design, color, and clever camera angles worked very well in the favor of this episode but the pacing, dialogs, and the ending failed to hit the mark. It would be wrong to say that this episode is bad or unwatchable, but you will be disappointed if you go in expecting a horror masterpiece.

All in all, it was an entertaining 40-minutes horror ride that did most things well and showed tremendous potential. Perhaps the upcoming episodes will fix these small problems that weighed this one down.

American Horror Stories season 2, episode 1 is now streaming on Hulu.

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Edited by Madhur Dave