Friday, November 11, 2011

AMERICAN HORROR STORY: THE MOST ADDICTIVE SHOW ON TELEVISION

I did an article for The Blood Sprayer eons ago in which I discussed how horror themed television series are often times some of the most poorly constructed shows on T.V.  The horror genre is an acquired taste to start with and trying to implant the spooky sensations anytime other than Halloween is often under appreciated or watered down in hopes to appease the cable lineup.  However, tv mogul Ryan Murphy has once again brought a series to light that has injected an addictive substance through my veins and driving me to the brink of insanity trying to figure out just what the hell is going on.  I first found myself a "RIB" fangirl with his show Nip/Tuck.  The captivating story lines and the fact he actually gave a shit about character development had me hooked from start to finish.  As a theatre student, I'm also a total gleek and have followed the Glee series since the beginning.  While the two shows are ridiculously different in structure and content, I will admit that I am obsessed with both of them.  When it was announced that American Horror Story was going to be hitting homes across America, and penned by Ryan Murphy, I will admit I did quite the little fangirl dance.  FINALLY, RIB back to his roots of Nip/Tuck with something edgy, sexy, scary, and crazy. 
 Let me be frank, here.  What in the name of Hell have I gotten myself into?  Jesus Fucking Christ, man.  The show follows The Harmon family who moves into this gorgeous mansion for dirt cheap.  Even with this economy, any good horror fanatic knows that is just SCREAMING that it's haunted, a murder site, plagued with death, near bad neighbors, or there's something living underneath it.  Despite it all, the Harmon's purchase the house using it as a home and also as an office for Ben, the patriarch of the family to use for his psychiatric appointments.  The family is trying to get a new lease on life after Ben was caught bonking a young girl by his wife.  The Harmon family consists of Ben, his wife Vivien, and their daughter Violet.  Immediately upon moving into the home, strange things start to happen and they are visited by their peculiar neighbor, Constance.  Now, let me stress the word "peculiar" In the world of this show, many of the characters are left ambiguous as to whether they are dead or alive.  Constance is one of these characters. 
There isn't much known about the house other than the fact there were some really strange events that took place on its grounds, and it seems that anyone who dies on the property is stuck there forever.  Well, that, and there's some crazy shit living in the basement.  Quite possibly the scariest thing about this show, is that many of the ghosts don't appear to be ghosts at all.  They don't float, they aren't transparent, and you can interact with them the same way you could interact with any of the living.  Leaving the viewer in complete confusion as to which characters are actually alive.  Wise move, Murphy.  This isn't to say that there aren't plenty of ghosties that are very obviously, well, dead.  There are plenty of people haunting the property that are rotting, decaying, bleeding, ripped apart, or demonic in appearance.  Murphy has found a fantastic balance of gore as well as story.  All of the gore has its purpose and it never once feels too over zealous. 
The show manages to pay homage to plenty of horror staples both from the cinematic world as well as the real world.  There are scenes inspired by things ranging from Psycho, SAW, Candyman, Rosemary's Baby, A Nightmare on Elm Street,  and a more obvious reference to the Columbine tragedy.  Many people seem to be complaining about the obvious shot-for-shot references to things we're already familiar with, but I always find it as a sweet surprise and a clever way to remind the horror fans that the writers are developing this show with us in mind. 
 It's the character development that is easily the most redeeming factor of the show.  Like I said before, most horror television series have a tendency to suffer from a lack of good storyline and likable characters.  While Jessica Lange shines as Constance and the rest of the adult cast give absolutely compelling performances, it is in Evan Peters' portrayal as Tate Langdon that seems to have overtaken AHS fans by the throat.  Who would have thought the kid screaming "I think I'm in love with her dude" about Hit-Girl from Kick-Ass would transcend into such a heartwarmingly horrifying character.  If there's one thing I will never deny Ryan Murphy, it's that he creates some damn interesting characters.  Without giving too much away, Tate has the qualities of a person that would be universally hated and disgusted...and yet it's next to impossible not to love everything about him.  To quote Tate himself, "How sick is that?".  The relationship that he has spawned with Violet Harmon is one of the most realistic relationships I've seen on television in a very long time, and the twist to it is heartbreaking to say the least.  I won't tell you what the twist is, you'll have to watch for yourself. 
All and all, this is a damn good show.  If you like anything remotely close to anything even accidentally resembling horror, you need to be watching this. 

Special thanks to
for posting all of these images, 
and helping support my habit.

1 comment(s):

joannapary said...

I completely agree. AHS is my new favorite show, immediately hopping to the fore of my list and contending even with my top favorite, Dexter. There's so much awesomeness going on in AHS, and I love the style it's shot in and that creepy beginning with the babies. You're right about Tate; I know I should hate him, but there's something strangely lovable about him.

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