American Horror Story : Death Valley is a four-part scifi horror drama featured within the 10th season of this anthology series. Also known as American Horror Story : Double Feature, the 10th season is divided into two parts: Red Tide, which takes place “by the sea”, and Death Valley, which takes place “by the sand”.
American Horror Story : Death Valley is essentially an extended Twilight Zone inspired tale where all the urban legends and myths about the grey alien abductions, Area 51 and the lizard people are infused into American history in a campy approach that belies its creepy premise.
For at least three-fourths of this miniseries, the key character is President Dwight “Ike” Eisenhower, who is confronted by an irresistible alien force and has to make one of the most difficult choices ever made by a world leader. Neal McDonough is able to imbue Eisenhower with pathos and strength and it isn’t too difficult to emphasise with his dilemma.
The fact that the flashback sequences are presented in black and white lends a certainly authenticity to the scenes, even as the stories that unfold have a tinge of absurdity throughout. In addition, famous historical events and figures are given a new context within this alternate reality.
Perhaps less compelling are the young victims of the alien agenda as contemporary events are presented in the usual colour palette – the characters are unsympathetic despite the horrors they encounter and sadly, when the focus fall on these youngsters, the engagement drops significantly.
Which is probably why the final episode is the weakest as Eisenhower drops out of the picture and the alien agenda is finally fulfilled. Sure, there is the typical message of mankind’s negligent stewardship of the earth and so forth. But without any twists and turns, the ending is very flat and abrupt. Probably ran out of ideas, as usual.
That all said, American Horror Story : Death Valley is a worthwhile time investment especially for scifi buffs. Recommended.
Streaming on Disney+.
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