TV Series Pilot Review: American Horror Story (2011)

American Horror Story is an atmospheric spook house series on FX. It is a strong entry into the horror universe predicated on the practical fears of life altering events as well as more traditional supernatural fears. Your Wednesday nights just got scarier.

The premise follows a family as they move from Boston to Los Angeles to try and mend the wounds caused by a miscarriage and infidelity...not necessarily in that order. They purchase an old house that was the host to an unstable couple who met a brutal murder/suicide demise. Weird shit happens and they begin their course into the annals of lunacy.

The show arrives from the creators of Glee. It is important to note this because that previous sentence right there would pretty much be enough to deter me from ever watching this show. However, it just so happens that American Horror Story is the complete opposite of what a show like Glee offers. People tell me that Glee is funny and well-written and funny and smart and funny and sexy and...well, funny. I usually dismiss the show as stupid. On the other hand...American Horror Show is scary and well-written and scary and smart and scary and sexy and....well, you get the point. 

There's even a hot red head in a French maid uniform that goes around trying to seduce poor Ben (Dylan McDermott) into cheating once again. Of course poor Ben doesn't realize that the hot red head is actually silver screen veteran Frances Conroy in disguise.

The acting is top notch for a television show. McDermott shows why he still has a career. Connie Britton plays the disheveled wife/mother, Vivian, doing her best to keep everything together. She plays the role with a familiar fragility that really displays the layers of the show. Taissa Farmiga plays the couple's daughter, Violet. You may think that you've seen her somewhere before...but, that's just because she resembles her older sister Vera.

Even Jessica Lange and Denis O'Hare (True Blood's Russell Edgington) show up to lend their acting chops in vital bit roles.

There's some crazy kid full of Kurt Cobain craziness that I suspect will be revealed as the actual ghost of Cobain. And I already mentioned Alex Breckenridge as the hot red head in a French maid uniform.

The show is full of great promise. It pretty much has all you need to captivate your Wednesday night viewing for an hour. I feel like the pilot set up enough of the craziness to have its audience wanting more. My only complaint was the directing of the first episode. Ryan Murphy, the show's co-creator, is a competent director but, it almost seems like he tries too hard. There's alot of spastic scenes shot in a way that kind of cheapens the overall look a little. Like, for example, there's one scene where Ben is jogging in the Los Angeles countryside only to be followed by some old guy with burn scars (O'Hare) and the whole scene just comes off silly and a little Benny Hill-ish. Hopefully, the directing will get tighter as the series progresses.

Oh...I forgot to mention the S&M body suit stuff. You know...the dudes in those tight latex/leather body suits in the promos? Well...Murphy managed to work those homoerotic dudes into the show. Kinda weird for a show grounded in spook house fare. I can't say that I'm a fan...or not. It just seems a little out of place. I mean...I get the whole overt sex stuff...but, I dunno...just doesn't really fit into the overall vibe of the show. It almost feels like they just had to fit the rubber body suit guys in somewhere.

For now...American Horror Story stands as a welcome entry into the haunted house sub genre. It is a show bleeding with beautifully horrific imagery and impeccable writing. It stands in a class of its own in a sea of prime-time terror.

DVR it...for now. Wednesday nights at 10E/9C on FX.

3.5 out of 5

Thanks for reading!

Btw...Alex made Dylan McDermott whack off in tears in front of a large window while a man with burn scars watched...