The first season of American Horror Story hit you like a train. The show about a haunted house had a plot that twisted and turned, tricked and treated, packed an emotional punch and was genuinely frightening. The visual decadence, the frenzied, untrustworthy storyline, the stunning acting and the strange, haunting characters: all of it combined into one writhing, glorious horror story that grabbed you by the throat and forced you to pay attention.

The second season (Perdeby got a sneak peek of the first two episodes) does all of this, and more. Simply put, the second season of American Horror Story is brilliant – at least so far.

Ryan Murphy and his team move the action from modern suburbia to a 1960s mental institution and create a totally new story, a new setting and new characters: this is a different kind of horror story, dealing with a different kind of crazy. This is American Horror Story: Asylum.

Jessica Lange (who acted her demented heart out in season one as the psychotic next door neighbour) plays Sister Jude, the sexually repressed, religiously furious nun who runs the asylum with an iron will and an iron fist. And boy, does she play her well. Completely shedding her character from season one, she imbues her new character with a force and power that is truly gripping. She is flawless.

Joining Lange from the season one cast is Evan Peters, who goes from a troubled teenage ghost to a troubled adult (perhaps wrongly accused?) serial killer.

The rest of the cast are just as good, playing their specific brand of demented with energy and style.

The new setting is also beautifully realised, so convincing that you can smell the dust, the sweat and the blood; hear the shrieks of patients reverberating through the bleak, macabre halls of the asylum as if they’re standing right next to you.

If season one was all about suburban domesticity gone horribly wrong, season two is all about the true definition of crazy; about a society that pathologises sin and sexuality; about the fight for rationality in an increasingly unstable world.

Who is truly insane? The creepy, but rational, scientist? The relentlessly devout nun? The nymphomaniac? The murderer? Whose version of reality can you trust? Is anyone really who they seem? Is anyone even really real? If season one was anything to go by, rest assured that nothing is as it seems. And that makes for really good TV.

American Horror Story: Asylum premiered on Mnet Series last week Friday at 21:30.

RATING: 8/10


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