When I saw the trailer for FX’s new TV show, American Horror Story, I knew I had to watch it, especially since they chose to premiere it in, duh, October, and I love ghost stories. The trailer was enough to make me uncomfortable; the pilot episode, well … To say “Parents Strongly Cautioned” would be an understatement. Beware: sex, drugs, imagery that would give Stephen King nightmares. There’s nudity, too, which Jake was pumped about until it turned out to be a man’s bare butt. DOH!
So, simple plotline: husband Ben (Dylan McDermott) had an affair after his wife Vivian (Connie Britton) had a miscarriage. Lovely. To escape his indiscretions, Ben decides to move his family from Boston to Los Angeles, including his daughter Violet (newcomer Taissa Farmiga)—who may be the only character in the show with any redeeming quality. They move into a cheap old mansion; it’s cheap because the previous owners suffered from, of course, a murder-suicide. And so begins the madness, including a maid who is apparently dead, a homicidal patient of Ben’s who has a crush on Ben’s daughter, and an apparition that wears a bondage suit.
To me, American Horror Story felt like it was trying to be The Amityville Horror but with a modern, soap opera twist. This feeling increased with the introduction of a mysterious man covered in scars who tells Ben that he burned his family to death because “the house told me to.” Ah-hem: copywrite infringement much?
The creators of this show, Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk, are best known for creating shows like Glee and Nip/Tuck, so I know they are capable of creating new and interesting television—and I’m not saying American Horror Story isn’t interesting. From the perspective of a Halloween hound, the show is horrifying. Within the first five minutes, two kids get brutally murdered by what I assume is an evil spirit in the house’s creepy basement. And Jessica Lange as the weird, aging actress neighbor with the Down syndrome daughter was so Evil (with a capital “E”), she made me cringe.
That said, Jake had a good point last night: he asked, how long can you continue a show like this? Sure, I’m interested to know why the house is haunted. Apparently everyone goes crazy there, but what started it all? I also want to see how many of the characters we met in the pilot are dead already (I suspect almost ALL of them). And yeah, it’s weird that the wife had sex with the bondage ghost—and now, she’s pregnant—so I guess I wanna see what kind of monster she gives birth to.
However, the characters aren’t very likeable, except the daughter. I think Ben is a weenie, and Vivian: do you really think your husband would wear a bondage suit and come to bed? I feel bad saying this, but the Down syndrome girl was just annoying, and I don’t know what’s going on with the maid who looks young sometimes and old other times. Plus, the show was just—so—weird. How many weird images do the creators have up their sleeves, and frankly, how long are audiences going to stick around without characters to root for?
I’ll give it this: American Horror Story is a horror story, and I do love haunted houses. I’ll watch it again, just to see if episode two gives these characters some engaging qualities. Plus, it’s October, and what better time to be haunted than the witching season?