I’m not the biggest horror fan but I’ve seen my fair share. As far as I’m concerned horror as entertainment is a genre that is in a rapid decline. Personally, I blame the rise and accelerated use of “jump scares” which frustrated me because I don’t see it as a genuine scare as much as a forced and cheap one. These days it’s rare to see a traditional ghost story be smart and throw away modern conventions for good old fashion haunting imagery. Well you’re going to be just as surprised as I was when I tell you that American Horror Story is genuinely terrifying and all around unsettling… Also, it’s on basic cable.
Usually a review like this would show up after the pilot episode, but this show was such a strange little piece of work that I had to see if it could consistently be strange before I came to a conclusion. Well three episodes in and not only am I thoroughly engulfed in this story, but I have good grasp on how the show will work now. Allow me to clue you guys in on this weird little hour of entertainment.
American Horror Story’s… Uh, story setup is an age old one. The Harmon family moves from Boston to Los Angeles and in the process, they get a gorgeous looking house which of course comes at a cheap price. Come to find out surprise, surprise, there was string of murders that have taken place there. Upon finding this out, Ben and Vivien shrug their shoulders. You see this move has a purpose for Ben and Viv as the family had a particularly dark series of unfortunate events back in Boston. So in an effort to preserve their family they opted for a new setting. Long story short, the place is totally haunted.
Ben and Viv also have a teenage daughter named Violet who acts the same way every teenage daughter in every form of film or television has acted since forever. So yeah there’s also that.
Honestly anything past that story wise is a spoiler and I’m not in that business. The thing about American Horror Story that makes it worth watching is that the writers get what makes a good ghost story, the back story. The cool thing about the show is that because it’s not confined to two hour limitations, everyone has a chance to be developed including the ghosts. Each episode isn’t so much a “spook of the week” as another chapter in the continued torment of this family. Throughout the series, each ghost is treated as a fully developed character and gets their moment to shine so much so that right away you’re not entirely sure who’s a ghost and who isn’t. To be honest, at this point I’m still not entirely sure.
As show progresses the only thing you know for sure is that the Harmon family is stuck with the house and each other. The show takes a page out of earlier installments of Silent Hill in that the horror and psychological torture is tailored to the family’s issues. Sometimes in strange twist the house benefits the family by “solving” their problems. What has developed in three episodes is a broken family with an unwanted dependency not only on each other but on a house that they tragically see as their last chance to be happy.
If you haven’t seen this show by now, you need to.