American Horror Story: Review (Part 1)

American Horror Story is a disturbing psychosexual piece of television history now.  It is a presentation full of literal shock and awe. It seems like a self aware with its imagery, horror homages, and need to be a horror show within a “horror show”. For these reasons did I decide to review/discuss each episode weekly. Unfortunately this decision has been made fairly late in the season. Please enjoy this compacted recap of the first five episodes of American Horror Story.

American Horror Story is centred on a 1920’s brick Victorian house built by a doctor to the stars. It is a large gorgeous chestnut stained glass masterpiece. One problem: Its nickname is Murder House. Over the years the house has been host to many a death making it a stop on the Eternal Darkness tour bus. More on that later.


Enter the Harmon’s, a family which has already had its share of real life American horrors: A long-term miscarriage and a youthful college student ala mistress.
After a shitload of therapy with no real result for two grown adults who want to heal but do not want the messy realities that need to come before that. So their answer is a starting over in LA with teenage daughter Violet otherwise known as the chain smoking hat wearing Manga reading angst machine who has a fondness for razorblades and negative thoughts. Ben, is psychiatrist with a pengent for crying seemingly a sex addict. Vivian is a beautiful woman but aging, and showing an intense need for control over her body and life which she has undoubtedly lost control of. Before they purchase what they see as a gorgeous find of a house, they are informed of the deaths of the last two owners in the basement: Murder Suicide. Violet in all her unconventional motives and IM DIFFERENT attitudes, chimes in: “We’ll take it”.


And we head down the rabbit hole. Adelaide, everyone’s favourite house invader, and Constance her mother. Enter Jessica Lange and her (hopefully) Emmy nomination. She chides her daughter, Adelaide, for breaking into their new neighbour’s home, ignoring the fact that that is exactly what she did as well. She is full of witty quips, backhanded compliments, straight forward insults, and way TMI. She leaves Vivian with a wad of Sage to help cleanse the house of “bad juju”.
Taking the advice, while doing this very act Vivian has a fright only it is just a leather gimp suit hanging in the attic. One giggle fest, and unreciprocated sex pass later Ben is scowling and throwing the suit into the garbage.


Tate is Ben’s patient an obviously smart and charismatic young man who is also pretty disturbed and possibly psychotic.  For two years Tate dreams of dressing in skull make up, going to school and killing people he likes. He calls it “a noble war”. “It’s a filthy world we live in. A filthy goddamn helpless world.And honestly? I feel like I’m helping to take them away from the shit and the piss and the vomit that runs in the streets. I’m hoping to take them somewhere clean and kind.” Lovely stuff really.
He then goes on to call his mother a cocksucker and hints that he has been molested. Both Ben and us as viewers are not sure what to believe. Ben hints that he has in fact heard worse. Tate, intrigued, leans forward begging for a story like a child would before bedtime. Ben cannot – spurred Tate calls the world “a filthy goddamn horror show”.
Ben may not have had much of an issue with obviously troubled Tate initially but he sure does as Tate takes an interest in Violet, the daughter.  More on this years feel good Romeo & Juliet later…

The maid. She is an obvious strange edition as women see her as an older red haired lady with a dead eye and a softness, and men see her a sexed up skimpy outfitted red-haired siren. As we saw in episode 3, Moira was in fact murdered in the house by Constance in the 1980s. Constance’s husband was in the act of raping a crying young lonely Moira when Constance came in shot Moira through the eye and then killed the man she loved since she was 16.  Moira is sad ultimately. Even when she seems to be trapping Ben in a compromising position or driving him slowly insane she comes off as more sad and alone compared tosome of the other individuals in the house.

He is the dying half burned man who we first caught watching Ben masturbate and cry through a window. Lovely! Next he is following a jogging Ben who confronts him about his obvious voyeuristic stalkerness. He shares his story: 20 years ago he lived in the very same house with his two young daughters and wife. Roughly 6 months in he was sleepwalking (LIKE BEN) and hearing voices telling him to do awful things. Awful things like covering his family in gasoline and lighting them on fire. They all died and he lived with 70% of his body burned. He has no idea how the fire got put out. Why is he following Ben? The house is evil obviously and he claims he must get his family out. During this tirade Larry is also getting a bit too touchy feely for Bens taste. He gets skeeved out and tells Larry to stay away from him and his family. Larry grins once Ben is out of sight.
Larry next returns wanting money for headshots! Apparently he has recalled his yearning for the stage (LOL). It wasn’t until later that I realized what he was asking for truly. (Headshots with a shovel!)
My theory is Larry is trying to get Ben to kill him on the houses property – maybe some headshots. Violent headshots. Ben threatens but Larry only begs for it the more violent Ben becomes.
Last we see Larry is covering the house is gasoline until he is confronted by a pissed off Chad, the Martha Stewart of Murder House. I cannot wait to see how that interaction went down considering Chads love for the houses décor.

After Ben through out the suit it appeared back in the house mysteriously.  Oh did I mention someone or something was wearing it lamely passing itself off as Ben to a newly intimate Vivian. While Ben sleepwalks naked and seems to be literally playing with fire the Rubberman and Vivian have a steamy rough throwdown in which Vivian actually seems a bit self aware that something is not quite right but both her pain and pleasure as too immense.
Constance, the ever player and knower, seemingly convinces a sleepwalking Ben to not kill himself, and possibly his family and go back to bed. Once there a slightly disturbed looking Vivian spouts her love for him. He returns it and they both lay in bed looking tense and shell shocked.
MY personal thoughts on Rubberman is his identity falling on Constance’s husband, or one of them, or possibly a manifestation of the house. Or a whole new character with their own bag of shock and awe.

HAYDEN “I’m not a whore! I mean something!”ala GLENN CLOSE
Hayden was Ben’s mistress and also a student of his. Ben unable to risk his “second chance” lied to Vivian and went to Boston to be with his mistress because she was going to get an abortion. This didn’t completely turn my stomach until I realized later on that this meant he had in fact gone back to Hayden even after Vivian caught him with her. Ben you asshat!
Hayden doesn’t hide her crazy that long. Understandably she is probably convinced Ben will ultimately love her.  But as Vivian point out in episode 5: Ben is the problem. He is looking for something he will not find in either of them.
Hayden learns her lesson the hard way though as she is murdered, by Larry, and buried in the backyard with what looked like a multitude of other bodies, including poor Moira in her frilly maid outfit.  However, something like death isn’t keeping Hayden down and she is not happy. Now, as a ghost a dirty bloody Hayden breaks into the house and proceeds to tear the lynchpin holding Ben and Vivian together out and burn it. Hayden wasn’t quite sane alive, but with her as a ghost she is a straight up wild card.
Hayden is responsible for one of my more audible reactions to this show as she “tricked” Vivian into thinking she put her dog in the microwave on Halloween. Later we see said dog, and Hayden admits it was trick.

Newly conceived as is shown in the last scene of the pilot, baby Harmon is a big mystery currently. This is mostly due to the baby’s father being unknown. Is Ben the father? Or Rubbersuitmanthing?Or the House?Bens eyes as he is digesting the news without being in Vivian’s sightline sums it up pretty well. (AHHHHH!!!)
The baby seems to not be affecting Vivian “right”. The baby kicks when it should still be tiny (IMPOSSIBLE!). Sonagrams of it make nurses faint. And Constance can smell it! We all know that can’t be normal.

What is dubbed Infantata or infant terrible on most message boards and in the pilot script initially is one of the most frightening sights in the house. It seemed attached Tate when it attacked the bully from Violet school, and she got a cool rogue hairdo out of the deal. But Tate regales the story of the “thing in the basement” when asked by Violet. The house’s original builder, the good Dr. Montgomery, who already had a Frankenstein complex and ether addiction, reaches new lows in terms of bad shit happening to them. One of the many girls that came to them for an abortion ended up telling her boyfriend the truth of the matter. This did the opposite of good. He was mad (in all senses of the word) and decided “eye for an eye” was the best logic. He kidnapped their nearly androgynous baby and sent him back to them with his different body parts in jars, the same jars I assume we see in the basement of the House in present day. The good doctor of course rebuilds his son. The outcome is the razor mouthed oversized eternal child in the basement naturally. Violet does not believe this tale from Tate, but I think it’s one of the only really true things he has shared with us.


~ by ATOM on November 9, 2011.

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