Post #3: Ratched (or American Horror Story: Noir)

Normally (well, for some value of normal), we don’t much traffic in recent stuff ’round Castle Blogferatu, but I can’t rave enough about Ratched. When I first heard about it, I was understandably apprehensive. Seriously, Nurse Ratched is one of the most chilling characters in cinema. When she hits the screen in One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest, the temperature plummets.

Providing her backstory becomes a fantastic idea and a lofty goal, one that could end in disaster if not handled right. That said, Ratched has received a shit-ton of bad press. I’m not sure what these folks were watching, but it couldn’t possibly have been what I watched. One Mashable article listed 10 Unanswered Questions from the Season 1 finale. 8 of those were totally answered, so somebody wasn’t paying attention. As for the remaining 2, I’m perfectly willing to wait for the next season.

Plus my adoration of Sarah Paulson started with Murder House. Huge fan of Ryan Murphy as well. His hand can be seen all over the place reinforcing a bleak AHS Freakshow tone and feel. And based on the writing, you’d think that Evan Romansky has worked with Murphy for years (he hasn’t).

Sure, Ratched has weak spots. The first half hour drags some, but if you power through it, you will not be sorry. The season finale is not much of a cliffhanger, which is fine, but it’s also less effective than the rest of the series. Also Dr. Hanover’s story arc doesn’t quite pull off its attempt at irony and becomes disappointingly anticlimactic. But overall these things remain minor and never break the spell.

Amongst the subplots that surprised me were the Bonnie & Clyde relationship of Edmund and Dolly, Sharon Stone and Brandon Flynn as Lenore and Henry Osgood (recalling Gloria and Dandy from Freakshow), and the scene-stealing Sophie Okonedo as Charlotte Wells.

The show’s most enjoyable aspect may well be the human awfulness oozing from most of the characters. We’re talking film noir levels of reprehensible that serve to heighten the straight-up horror elements. Almost everyone has something(s) to hide, some ulterior motive, someone they want dead, some delusion they will do anything to maintain.

These people are Just.

Not.

Good.

And so, having finished this first season of Ratched, I’ll likely rewatch it, then rewatch One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest and await Season 2. While I’m at it, maybe I’ll bust out Double Indemnity, Detour, and Nightmare Alley…again.

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