There’s a point in Jonathan Demme’s The Silence of the Lambs when James Gumb aka Buffalo Bill bends down toward the hole where he’s trapped a screaming, crying Catherine Martin. Gumb stares at Catherine, seemingly feeling some kind of emotion, but he quickly begins to mimic her cries, mocking her. In that moment, Gumb’s complete lack of empathy for his victim becomes evident. Whatever mistaken humanity we thought we might have seen in his eyes is gone; Buffalo Bill is an utterly real and terrifying killer.
In “Massacres and Matinees,” AHS: Freak Show’s second episode, we got a better look at Twisty the Clown’s murderous antics. John Carol Lynch’s soulful eyes seem to belie his vicious nature, but when we catch sight of a shopkeeper’s decapitated head on a shelf — as with Gumb — all bets are off. Ghosts, Nazi doctors, Bloody Face, aliens, the devil, minotaurs, witches and voodoo priestesses — none of these hold a candle to Twisty, even this early in the season. There’s an odd, childlike quality to his movements before a strike, that allows Twisty to get close to his victims. Whether or not that’s controlled behavior (I think not), his playful approach gave a teenaged girl enough pause to accept Twisty’s flowery greeting, after which he handily disposed of her boyfriend.
Is Twisty perhaps attempting to find some kind of normalcy, recreating something that happened in his own life? The truly interesting thing as audience (not victim) to serial killers is trying to find the key to that sometimes mindful madness. This killer clown is by far Freak Show’s most interesting villain; certainly the entire series’ best. We want — need — to know what happened to Twisty to make him this way. Was his family victim to a killer he’s now emulating? Are those kids in a cage pseudo siblings? What in Krusty’s name happened to Twisty’s “smile” (and does it somehow relate back to Asylum’s Bloody Face)?
After seeing only two Freaky hours, one thing is crystal clear: Twisty the Clown is the one to watch; American Horror Story’s supreme monster. I can’t wait to see what he and new pal, Dandy get up to next.
In rather amusing related news, the Clowns of America International (“the nation’s biggest clown club”) is officially pissed about Twisty’s tale. President Glenn Kohlberger is bemoaning Hollywood’s depiction of scary clowns, saying “They can take any situation no matter how good or pure and turn it into a nightmare.” But what the dude fails to realize is that for most who suffer coulrophobia, it’s not a Hollywood thing, it’s our natural reaction to a white-faced, red-nosed, drawn-on smiley-faced MONSTER trying to convince us he’s really a funny, funny guy. Good luck rehabbing that image, man.