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Early Halloween with Paranormal Activity with American Horror

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"You don't need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows," but these days, a guide through the seemingly endless flurry of pop culture is just what we need. With that in mind, here is what's on the radar screen in TV, music and film for the coming week.

TV

Big event: American Horror Story (Oct. 17, FX Canada, 9 p.m.):

Big picture: Only a truly twisted mind could have created both American Horror Story -- and Glee. Ryan Murphy is a scary, scary man.

When I learned Season 2 of AHS would feature all-new characters and an all-new haunt, I was hoping Murphy would combine his two concepts. Imagine a high school haunted by a demonic, murderous -- yet somehow still precious -- glee club that was killed on stage during their crowning performance (in a trap set by the school's vengeful cheerleader coach, of course). Murphy could have even brought in some of his Glee cast. (Personally, I can't imagine anything more frightening than Cory Monteith singing while also trying to murder me).

But seriously, folks. American Horror Story was my favourite new series of 2011 and this season looks even better. Gone are last year's haunted house and the tormented Harmon family. The new spook-filled abode is the Briarcliff Manor, an insane asylum run by the tyrannical Sister Jude (Jessica Lange, one of many returning cast members tackling new, diabolical roles).

Forecast: You thought Season 1 was weird? Get ready for everything from a serial killer named Bloody Face (who wears the skin of his victims as a mask) to Nazis, aliens and killer nuns. (Ryan Murphy, I worry about you.) Don't watch this one before bed. The stellar cast includes the returning Zachary Quinto, Joseph Fiennes, Ian McShane (Deadwood) and Chloe Sevigny, who plays a sex-addicted patient (of course she does). Adam Levine (of Maroon 5 and The Voice) also co-stars -- a lucky bit of casting for me, given I feel like strangling him whenever I see him on my television, and characters on this show don't tend to live long.

Honourable mention: Suburgatory (Oct. 17, Citytv, 7:30 p.m.; ABC 8:30 p.m.): One of last year's underrated, most-consistently funny sitcoms returns, starring Jeremy Sisto and Jane Levy as the eccentric, fiery teenager Tessa. I've always found real suburbs more frightening than anything American Horror Story or Paranormal Activity can scare up. But Suburgatory proves they can be funny, too.

MOVIES

Big release: Paranormal Activity 4 (Oct. 19)

Big picture: In the horror franchise's latest outing, a Mormon businessman named Mitt moves into a spooky, white house haunted by things that go bump in the night (Tea Partiers?) and the ghostly wails of its previous owner: "Chaaaaaaaaange... chaaaaaaaange." (What? Too soon?) PA4's real plot is tied to the first two films of the series, and picks up a dozen years after a young girl named Katie (Katie Featherston) was terrorized by forces of darkness and eventually possessed by them.

Forecast: Directors Ariel Schulman and Henry Joost will offer genre fans tricks and treats. The series has always looked for new ways to merge horror and technology, and this PA promises a spook-filled video chat over a laptop. Can't be anymore frightening than teaching your mom and dad how to Skype, right?

Honourable mention: Alex Cross (Oct. 19): Tyler Perry goes from Madea to Dirty Harry -- from fat suit to fancy detective suit. He plays the titular character (straight from the pages of James Patterson's novels), a detective bent on tracking down the brilliant serial killer who slaughtered his wife. Matthew Fox co-stars as the villain (he probably wishes he was back on the island).

MUSIC

Big release on Oct. 16: K'Naan (Country, God or the Girl)

Big picture: The Canadian-Somali artist wrestles with internal battles on his new album instead of the external conflicts that shaped his life. K'Naan's music has, until now, largely been shaped by the strife and violence his family experienced as war refugees. But this time around, with a painful breakup behind him, the suffering and soul-searching are all focused within. "Love is harder than war," he's said regarding the direction of his new work. (Let's hope director Michael Bay doesn't hear about this, or the next Transformers is going to feature a lot more robot sex scenes.)

Forecast: K'Naan will display the same soul, creativity and deft lyrics that have made him one of this country's finest musicians. This time around, K'Naan isn't wavin' the flag alone. High-profile guests on the album include fellow Canadian Nelly Furtado, Nas, U2's Bono, Keith Richards and Will.I.Am. But songs such as Hurt Me Tomorrow and The Sound of My Breaking Heart are bound to have 100 times the depth of the average pop song about love lost. K'Naan's existential album title already shows he has more depth than the average star; a similar album by someone like Mick Jagger would be titled: Girl, Girl or the Girl.

Honourable mention: Martha Wainwright (Come Home to Mama): It's tell-all, confessional week for Canadians! Wainwright's new effort, produced by electronic artist Yuka Honda, mines marriage and motherhood and delves into the loss of Wainwright's mother, folksinger Kate McGarrigle. The album's first single, Proserpina, was even written by her dearly departed mom. Like K'Naan, Wainwright invited some prominent guests to the studio, including Sean Lennon and Wilco guitarist Nels Cline.

-- Postmedia News

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition October 14, 2012 ??65525

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