American Horror Story: Pilot Review

13 Oct

Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk, creators of shows such as Nip/Tuck and Glee, are attempting to bring a Horror/Thriller/Melodrama, American Horror Story, to the small screen on fx.  The premise begins simply enough, Boston couple, Vivien (Connie Britton) and Ben (Dylan McDermott), have marriage problems. She had a miscarriage and withdraws emotionally. He had an affair with one of his students and she caught him. They move their maladjusted teenage daughter , Violet (Taissa Farmiga) with them to Los Angeles for a fresh start. I guess nobody has informed them that you never get a fresh start in Los Angeles.


The house they buy, as we see in the opening sequence, is evil.  People go in and they die (we get to see two twin boys murdered in 1978 – I personally thought they deserved it after vandalizing the house).  If they don’t die, they kill other members of their family.  Either way, you seem to be screwed if you go into that house.  The Keepers of the House seem to be a trio of women:  Constance (Jessica Lange, in her first TV role that we are reminded of non-stop) who is a neighbor and a failed actress; Addy (Jamie Brewer), Constance’s daughter who has Down’s Syndrome and is obsessed with the house; finally, the real housekeeper who comes with the house somehow, Moira (Frances Conroy) and a younger version of herself (Alex Breckenridge).  These women seem to have some strange control of the house or commune with it.

The pilot follows the trials and tribulations of the Harmon family adjusting to the house and their new Los Angeles lives.  Violet meets one of Ben’s patients (her dad is a psychiatrist), Tate (Evan Peters) who is quite frankly, terrifying.  He doesn’t fit in at school and has fantasies about killing people he likes.  Because THAT is really healthy.  He likes Violet.  He promises to help her with girl bullies.  She tells him she doesn’t scare easily until he gets her to take one of the girl bullies down into the basement.  Then through a very choppy editing sequence, we see that Violet is attacked as well as the girl bully.  After that, Violet tells Tate she never wants to see him again.  Hmmm.  I wonder what he does once he doesn’t like you.  Oh yes, and there is some trolly sort of creature involved in the attack and you cannot be sure if it is Tate as well as the trolly creature or an actual trolly creature that was Tate.

As we learn in the beginning of the pilot, Ben can’t keep it in his pants.  And if he claims that Vivien was pushing him away and he looked elsewhere for some comfort, I think we can all see he is really a pig and a horndog as he gets excited as soon as he sees Moira, the housekeeper.  Now, while we see Moira as an older version (Frances Conroy), and that is the version of her Vivien meets and sees, Ben sees her as a younger version of herself, who is quite frankly, dressed like a French maid ready to get it on.  Ben walks in a bit later on the young Moira, let me see how I shall say this… playing with herself, which makes him immediately have to go jerk off in the other room.  A short time later, she shows up in his office, exposing her breasts to him and asking him to touch her when Violet walks in.  Because maids always do that.  Okay, maybe they do in Hollywood considering the scandal surrounding a certain former California Governor.

Vivien doesn’t get left out of the sexual chaos in the house.  A man (she thinks it’s Ben) shows up in a Latex suit covering his face and they end up having sex.  In the meantime, Ben is sleepwalking and somehow woken up by the neighbor, Constance, who is wandering in his backyard.  I’m guessing Frances has something to do with Latex Man.

Finally, Ben gets visited by a former tenant of the house who tells him they have to get out.  The house/voices in the house got him to kill his wife and daughters.  Ben gets angry and tells him to leave him alone.

The premiere of this pilot did very well in ratings for fx.  It beat the Nip/Tuck premiere and the Sons of Anarchy premiere for their respective pilots, so unless the ratings plunge, I’m guessing American Horror Story will be around for at least this full season.

On a sidenote:  Ryan Murphy is working on a Hitchcock project (a documentary possibly from what I can gather) and apparently he is obsessed with the music from Vertigo.  If you watch the pilot, whenever you hear the creepy Bernard Herrmann music you will know something bad is happening.  Just like in Vertigo.

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