14 Oct 2013

[HORROR OF HALLOWEEN] 'American Horror Story: Season 1' Review

Directors: Ryan Murphy, Alfonso Gomez-Rejon, Bradley Buecker, David Semel, Michael Uppendahl, Tim Hunter, Miguel Arteta, John Scott, Michael Lehmann
Writers: Ryan Murphy, Brad Falchuk, Jennifer Salt, James Wong, Tim Minear, Jessica Sharzer
Stars: Dylan McDermott, Connie Britton, Evan Peters, Taissa Farmiga, Jessica Lange, Denis O'Hare
No. of Episodes: 12
Sub-Genre: Television, Haunted House, Supernatural, Sexual Violence, Black Comedy, Religious,
Start Date: October 5th, 2011

Vivien and Ben Harmon and their daughter Violet relocate to Los Angeles from Boston and buy a large old house. As required by law, the real estate agent discloses that the previous occupants were the victims of a murder-suicide.

American Horror Story, debuting back in 2011 hit with horror fans, and it hit big. Nothing of this nature had ever been released on television before, and although we had The Walking Dead to feast on, American Horror Story was the first of it's kind to bring that unexplored horror territory to television; yes, we had never really seen zombies on TV either but this was different, this was breaking into some unmarked areas that the TV audience had never seen before. To put it simply, American Horror Story was something television never had but always needed - AHS was a superb addition to the horror genre of TV.

Smart, Twisted, Sexy - American Horror Story is a substantial horror show that broke the boundaries of television to deliver something intoxicating and horrifying, and though there were times when opposites had to collide, Glee writers Murphy and Falchuk weren't afraid to get down and dirty as long as it was delivering what audience's craved; and that was a sexy stylish affair with enough strong narrative structuring to please the normal viewer, and enough grisly horror to please the horror fans who jumped head first into this.

No episode is perfect, that I can fault it on, but every episode tries something new, and the ambition Season 1 brings to the genre is enough to spark a chain of fantastic ideas that could lead to further shows or films. Slightly stepping into the Scooby-Doo formula, it never manages to pull out of the whole 'new villain new week' phase, but oddly it works, and despite a few development issues here and there, the villains are fleshed out the right amount to inject the element of fear into the show. It's scary, very scary, and in this age of horror that's very rare to find, especially in a show driven with demonic and sexual tones, laced in style, vibrant with horror.

Each episode takes their time to develop their character whilst balancing the next new narrative  and despite a couple of meaningless performances  the cast really up their game in making this the fantastic show it is. For obvious reasons Jessica Lange is phenomenal  Dylan McDermott, Taissa Farmiga, Denis O'Hare and Jamie Brewer all perform brilliantly displaying their characters with depth and emotion, and when they start to bite the dust you feel the emotion of a loss of a character; one in particular that was Maddie (performed by the wonderful Jamie Brewer) were she gets hit by a car whilst running to be a pretty girl, and when Constance (Lange) drags her back into the garden in an attempt to bring her back you feel every emotion, and it's heart-breaking, that scene of all was the most memorable and defiantly the most effective.

VERDICT: American Horror Story may be fast to deliver the horror drenched in extra sex-appeal, but it also presents itself with deep meaning, and behind the gore and scares lies a fantastic story with well-executed characters and a superb set-up. Thankfully it continued on to Season 2 and 3, but none have yet been able to match the to stylish grace of the first season. 

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