“Don’t make me kill you again.”
When the pilot episode of American Horror Story opened with a shot of another creepy house behind another creepy gate, I braced myself for a boring hour of television. While I loved the promos, I was almost certain they wouldn’t deliver on their promise. I could not have been more wrong. If this show, created by Glee co-creators Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk, stays as good as its first episode, I am going to have a new obsession.
The story is a perennial favorite: a family, looking for a fresh start, moves into a house with a troubled past, hijinks ensue. Any story of this kind lives or dies by the strength of its cast, and it’s here that American Horror Story really shines. There’s a creepy daughter next door, Adelaide (Jamie Brewer), who likes to walk into the house and tell people they’re going to die, but there’s also her mom, Constance (Jessica Lange) who’s even creepier overbearing nature masked by southern courtesy recalls a bit of Ruth Gordon’s character in Rosemary’s Baby. Add to these two the (literally) two-faced housekeeper, played by Frances Conroy, and the delightfully earnest and psychotic Tate, who in one scene writes ‘TAINT’ on a chalkboard for no apparent reason, and I was having a blast even before the Rubber Man showed up. While I have yet to warm to Dylan McDermott’s acting skills or his philandering character Ben, I already adore the other two members of the family, Connie Britton’s Vivian and Taissa Farmiga’s Violet.
The show itself is unnerving; I’m never entirely sure what is going to happen next, and there’s never long to wait between the creepy moments. American Horror Story sets out to spook and entertain us, and I appreciate its commitment to those goals and the earnest delight the creators seem to take in pursuing them. This is a show made for people who like scary stories made by people who love scary stories. There’s also wit and sexiness and misbehavior–although maybe a few too many shots of Dylan McDermott’s naked butt. You can’t win them all.
There were a few logical problems (psychotics, I’m learning, are not curable, and it seems like Ben at one point suggests he has cured some in the past; after what I’ve seen in the first episode, I would move out of the house; there is no way the school bully would go to the house of the girl she’s bullying, especially without backup), but aren’t there always? For now, I’m choosing to give these a pass.
I hope the show stays this strong. I am already looking forward to next week.