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‘The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story’: The Horror News Network Mid-Season Review

Halfway through its intense and diverse season, The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story manages to out-“American horror” American Horror Story and claim the prize as one of the most engaging shows on television. Between its expert storytelling, its incredible actors, and its flawless delivery of social commentary, the series manages to exceed expectations each and every night.

The title, The Assassination of Gianni Versace, can be misleading at first glace. In Season One, we knew The People v. O.J. Simpson would primarily focus on the Simpson trial… and that’s exactly what we got. Assassination tells a much more complex story. Based on Vulgar Favors: Andrew Cunanan, Gianni Versace, and the Largest Failed Manhunt in U.S. History by Maureen Orth, the season spends significantly more time on Darren Criss’ serial killer Cunanan and his other victims than the time it dwells on the inner-workings of the Versace clan. That isn’t to say that Edgar Ramirez, Penelope Cruz, and Ricky Martin aren’t completely magnetic on screen- because they’re incredible- but the structure of the storytelling allows for breathing room as the viewer takes in the scope of Cunanan’s actions. read more

‘The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story’ Episode 2 Review

The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story maintains its momentum in Episode Two by elaborating on what worked so well with last week’s episode. Like its predecessor, The People v. O.J. SimpsonAssassination offers incredible characterization as it unfolds its exposition through the clever use of flashbacks and present-day storytelling.

Darren Criss is the star of the show with his scene-stealing portrayal of serial killer Andrew Cunanan. Episode Two spends much more time getting to know him, and this ends up being both hypnotizing and traumatizing for the viewer. Criss’ Cunanan projects a special blend of iron confidence and crippling awkwardness. In some public scenes, we get the impression that he could sell bottled water to a fish; but in his private moments we can see him grappling with the fact that his world is unraveling as a nationwide manhunt closes in on him. Depending on the scene and his company, Criss’ character is sometimes unassuming, sometimes charming, or sometimes terrifying. I suggested in my previous review that Criss sometimes takes a page out of Christian Bale’s book when he portrayed Patrick Bateman in 2000’s American Psycho, and I was utterly delighted when Episode Two ended with a scene very similar to Bateman’s “misunderstood” night club conversations. One thing’s for sure: regardless of his inspirations, Criss is delivering an extremely engaging performance of an otherwise detestable character for this program. read more

‘The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story’ Episode 1 Review

The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story continues the series’ track record of being Ryan Murphy’s best show on television. Two years ago, The People v. O.J. Simpson was a surprise hit for a variety of reasons. It featured excellent actors in amazing roles and the season maintained its thrilling momentum, even while exploring the minute details of the Simpson case. The show was engaging and thoughtfully delivered throughout. My thesis at the time was that the show’s secret weapon was that it was based on a book by Jeffrey Toobin, and that’s what forced Murphy and company to keep the production on its tracks from start to finish. A common complaint about American Horror Story is that every season tends to go off the rails after a few episodes. Because American Crime Story has been based on thoroughly-researched texts about real-life events, there aren’t as many opportunities to embellish or stray into territory which might lose an audience. read more