As a fan of American Horror Story, I've come to appreciate that the show has certain… imbalances. The plot can go in circles, there are twists that don't immediately make sense, but you can't deny the show has style. While the show has always had brilliant casting, its characters can fall flat... None moreso than Twisty the Clown. (Spooooky Spoilers follow.)
What Makes Horror Scary?
By and large, horror works because of the unknown. The X factor, the things we don't know about the monster. Where is he? When will he strike? What is he thinking? Why does he kill?? The less we know about a scary thing, the more that our minds fill in the gaps with all things vile and mysterious.
Which is the first problem with our friendly neighborhood murder clown: He is precisely what he looks like. A crazed killer in a blood-stained outfit, carrying a bag of knives and blunt objects. (I'm only sorry we never saw him strangle anyone with that handkerchief that goes on for days.)
I've written before about my problems with this season's characters. The consensus of the comments seemed to be: "Wait 'til we know more about Twisty. You're jumping the gun." In episode four of AHS' fourth season, we learn all there is to know about Twisty the Clown. It did not impress.
Who Is This Clown?
Twisty turns out to be a dim-witted clown with possible brain damage— chalk it up to his mother's pregnant drinking and/or the fact that she dropped him on his head. So Twisty is at best, a simpleton. Jealous coworkers (a pair of surly dwarfs) spread rumors that Twisty's a pedophile. He loses his job, and returns to Jupiter a disgrace.
He camps out at an abandoned school bus, trying to make children's toys out of garbage. His attempts to sell these in town go badly. He is again run out of town, as rumors of pedophilia follow him like his own shadow. In despair, he attempts to take his own life with a shotgun.
It goes badly.
Not long after that, the clown begins killing. A lot. Given a spectral jaw—as he's talking to a ghost at the time— he explains that he was simply looking after kids, and trying to keep them entertained. He has no idea that he's been killing people. At all.
Why Doesn't It Work?
Well, let's take a look at the questions from before:
Where is Twisty? Right over there. Standing in broad daylight.
When will he strike? Soon as he's done with his parlor tricks, unless there's any sign that you're a good parent.
What is he thinking? Not much, I'm afraid.
Why does he kill? He's lost his mind. He's no longer aware of his own actions.
There's something sad and kind of pathetic about a character who doesn't understand his or her own actions. They can't recognize what's going on, so they're detached from the story... or at least from the characters who are more competent. So Twisty leaves me flat. Entirely.
I mean absolutely zero disrespect to John Carroll Lynch. He's a fine actor, and highly capable of being mysterious, creepy, and threatening. (Look no further than Zodiac for proof of that.) He can also be funny, charming, and sweet, depending on what the role calls for. The guy has phenomenal range.
Anyway. We wanted to learn more about this character. Now you know all there is to know about him.
What do you think?