After creating the controversial Nip/Tuck series and FOX’s karaoke-laden Glee, producers Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk have recently launched a new series on FX called American Horror Story.
Adhering to its title, the series bursts with frightening entities, twisted murders, ghostly presences, unnerving camera angles and even a mysterious man wearing a jet-black rubber full-body suit. Deviating completely from the frolic jingles of Glee, Murphy and Falchuk portray their darker and deformed ideas through American Horror Story.
The show opens with a flashback to 1978, as a mentally retarded girl warns two twins not to enter an abandoned victorian home in Los Angeles. Neglecting the girl’s warning, the twins enter the house and soon are attacked by some kind of malformed entity. Back in the present, the Harmon family moves from Boston to Los Angles and purchases the “Murder House.” The house was only a quarter of the price that it should be selling for.
Each American Horror Story episode opens with flashbacks to brutal murders that occurred in the house. As the series progresses, this patchwork of history is woven into the narrative as the house becomes a character in and of itself, similar to that of the haunted Overlook Hotel from Stephen King’s The Shining.
The cast is led by Dylan McDermott, who plays Ben Harmon, the patriarch of the family who recently had an affair with a college student from Boston and was caught by his wife, Vivien (Friday Night Lights’ Connie Britton). The two decide to move across the country with their rebellious teenage daughter, Violet (Taissa Farmiga), to start with a clean slate.
However, the Harmon’s soon realize that the house is far from ordinary, and the baggage that comes with the house is just as chilling as the house itself. Their neighbor Constance (Jessica Lange) and her mentally handicapped daughter Addie (Jamie Brewer) often creepily enter and roam around the house uninvited. Addie even hauntingly tells Vivien that she will die in the house. The house also comes with a maid who is seen by Vivien as an old, redheaded woman with a deformed eye, but is seen by Ben as a beautiful and sexually-teasing redhead. There is an entrancing mystery shrouding the house and countless loose ends that viewers will be eager to pursue.
While American Horror Story does in fact blend countless horror tactics and ideas that have already been used in well-known terror films such as Halloween and Psycho, the show explores the thrilling psychological complexions of the Harmon family and entices viewers to follow these characters along with all of the ghostly beings around them. However, much of the show contains fragmented scenes that sometimes are completely ridiculous and question where the story is really heading.
As in the past with Nip/Tuck, American Horror Story looks like it will be a show that will receive both praise and criticism.
For the time being though, it’s a show that viewers should dabble into.
Matt Vaghi may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org