"WELL, I MEAN, I'M ALWAYS INFLUENCED BY DE PALMA"
Earlier today, I posted about last night's season premiere of American Horror Story, and how the opening scenes appeared to pay homage to Brian De Palma. The show's creator, Ryan Murphy, who also directed last night's episode, discussed the episode with Entertainment Weekly's Tim Stack. Stack to Murphy: "The style is so different. The use of split screens really reminded me of Brian De Palma—was he your inspiration?"
Murphy replies, "Well, I mean, I’m always influenced by him, and yes, that is sort of an homage to him in some weird way. But I think this season is unusual in that it’s sort of like a weird cross between Douglas Sirk and Texas Chainsaw Massacre.
Stack then says, "I’m guessing you brought the Douglas Sirk." Murphy replies, "I did! If you watch this season as compared to last season, the camera barely moves this season. It’s a much more still cinematic exploration, which means our brilliant director of photography, Michael Goi, had a lot longer time to light. Everything had to be much more spot on because you don’t move the camera. But I really wanted it to be wider frames, bigger frames, stiller frames. And I really put much more of an emphasis this season on the production design and the costumes than ever before because it has that sort of Douglas Sirk ‘50s thing to it."
In my earlier post, I also mentioned that the music reminded me of Bernard Herrmann. Murphy mentions a different composer as he responds to Stack's question about how this episode seemed to use less jump cuts and a slower pace overall. "Yeah," Murphy tells Stack, "we’re using some George Antheil music who was a big composer from back then and whose music was used in a lot of ‘50s and ‘60s horror movies. I like paying homage to the early ‘50s and horror movies and back then they didn’t have Steadicam and they didn’t have jump cuts. So we don’t do as much as that. I felt like I wanted it to be in a more eerie world as opposed to a more startling abrupt world."
Later in the article, Murphy talks about how he ended up directing the episode, and the immense work Sarah Paulson put in to portray the twin sisters. A lot of great discussion in there, definitely worth checking out.
American Horror Story: Freak Show Tips Hat to De Palma
Murphy Says AHS Season Under the Influence of De Palma
Carrie Cues & Echoes of Sisters as American Horror Story Begins Its Second Season