Saturday, October 15, 2011

31 DAYS OF HALLOWEEN EXTRA

AMERICAN HORROR STORY: A REVIEW
“The Harmon family - husband Ben (Dylan McDermott), wife Vivien (Connie Britton) and daughter Violet (Taissa Farmiga) move to an old Los Angeles house with a creepy neighbor (Jessica Lange) and an even creepier basement. “ (EW)

I have probably said it before but I am a complete Gleek. I love Glee. I also love anything horror related so when I started hearing that Glee creators Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk were creating a horror show on FX you could say I was intrigued. How could the same people who give me show tunes and glee clubs every week possibly make anything that would remotely scare me. Oh wait they are the same folks that brought me Nip/Tuck which I loved until the last couple of seasons. But of course I will watch. I am a glutton for anything spooky especially this time of year. So I sat down this Sunday night to watch with anticipated glee, yep pun intended, to see what they came up with.

Starts off great, creepy old house, and a young girl who tells two local neighborhood bullies that they are going to die in the house. There is this great happy little soundtrack as the boys destroy the house with their baseball bats until one of the twin brothers finds a possum that has just had its throat slit and is bleeding out, but they don’t seem to notice this they just notice the basement door open and want to go investigate. Apparently they have never seen any horror films and know that this is a bad idea. The abandoned basement is full of Specimen jars, animals, baby heads you know the kind of thing that is cool, not creepy to a couple of pre-pubescent kids. But it smells down there and so one of the brothers decides to leave thinking his brother will be right behind him. Until it gets eerily quiet. Insert horror movie sequence. It works. Add in an uber creepy opening credits montage and I am interested.

Flash forward to modern day where we meet the Harmons who have just bought said creepy house from the beginning. They are looking for a fresh start. And they need one. You see a year ago Vivian (played by Friday Night Lights’ alum Connie Britton) is still getting over a miscarriage when she goes home only to find her husband having an affair with one of his students. Sure moving to ideallic sunshine filled California seems like a good idea and Daddy Harmon Ben (Dylan McDermot) doesn’t seem to understand why his wife won’t hold his hand or help consecrate the new house. Violet, their teenage daughter is a snarky gloomy young girl who is totally psyched that the previous owners of their new home killed themselves. Whoo hoo.

And this home is an odd one, we have the latex submissive suit hanging in the attack, prophetic little neighborhood girls (yep one from the beginning), the other creepy he girl’s mother who has a penchant for stealing things, being nosy and saying things that are so, so not politically correct (played amazingly by Jessica Lange), a new housekeeper who looks like a glass eyed older woman to everyone but Ben who sees a twenty something in a naught maid uniform and is convinced his wife is apparently giving him the ok to have a little tickle and poke with her, weird disfigured burned guys who like to be voyeurs and give prophetic warnings that the house is completely evil, the evil twin ghosts who died and apparently still linger, cabinets and doors that like to open themselves, weird ass murals, a demon in the basement apparently, voices that are telling Daddy Harmon to go all Shining/Amityville Horror on everyone and more. What could be cozier? Even better when the family that moves in to this horror movie extravaganza is extremely damaged. Nope, nothing bad or twisted could possibly happen.

THE GOOD:
I love Vivian. I like her. I am rooting for her. There is a great argument when Ben wants to get all freaky and she is not having any of it. He asks her how long she is going to keep punishing him, she said that she is not punishing him she is trying to figure out how the hell to forgive him for what he did because all she can see is the look on his face as he was nailing his student and calls him a narcissist asshole (which he is). He says that he was hurting too. Really so you had your dead son in your belly and then had to give birth to him and that is why you were having an affair? Cause that is a good reason. He spouts off statistics on how many men cheat after a miscarriage cause again he can’t be at fault being the all-knowing psychiatrist that he is and also he apparently wants to be a part of those statistics. His retort is that she got a dog when he needed her, so he got a student. Fair trade right? We’ll get to how much I loathe Ben. But this was a great scene. This was real, this was damaged and raw and I felt like I had left the horror clichés behind into a glimpse of the fallout of one family. And I completely felt for Vivian. Even with the hitting and makeup sex afterward.

I also love Dylan McDermott’s ass. What can I say I am a woman. You cannot fault me. Or the Lee Adama towel move. Its one of the few things I love about Ben’s character.

I like the cuts, the graininess, the hyper editing, the weird ass atmosphere of the whole thing. Usually pilots tend to suck, but as odd as this is, I want to watch more. I want to see how crazy it can get. I want to know the history of the house, to see how long they can pull this series off, and see how it all fits together. And I especially want to see how all of the characters fit together: Is Tate the demon in the basement, did Jessica Lange kill the housekeeper?, Who was in the rubber suit? (great expression on Vivian’s face when she is telling Ben the good news and sees him in the doorway, the oh shit what kind of baby am I carrying look) Who is a ghost and who is real? Etc.

The yappy type dog must die soon. I am okay with this.

THE BAD:
Ben crying like some wounded baby after heading to the bathroom to spank the monkey after seeing the new housekeeper heaving some one on one fun of her own. Its creepy. It’s disturbing and I have no sympathy for you what so ever. What you are so broken up because you’re not getting any? Or because you realize it was a douchebag move to have an affair after everything your family went through a year ago. You’re an ass with a great ass. I still hate you. Even if you are slowly becoming crazy possessed by your voices.

As a woman in the mental health industry I can’t help but say that Ben is a horrid horrid psychiatrist. Seriously your first patient is a teenage boy not taking his medication, who suddenly has a weird attraction to your daughter, and oh yeah has fantasies of going to his school and gunning down all of the people he likes so he can remove them from the misery of this world and your response is….you’re going to be okay. Umm, red flags there dude. Because of course now that said bat shit crazy ghosty Tate is trying to get your teenage daughter to go Heathers on the school bully. Again, Ben, I don’t like you. But at least you did try and call the school. How did that go? Since he is probably a ghost. Did you follow up on that? Probably not.

Wow bullies have grown. At Violet’s school apparently the high school bullies enforce their Queen B Statuses and love for non-smokers and the environment by trying to make Violet eat her cigarette (oh look its Kendra the Bad lamp Slayer from Buffy). But it’s okay it’s just that the bully is a coke addict and is completely willing to go with her new nemesis because she randomly has coke in her basement. Yeah. Sure.

Speaking of Violet. I really want to like, but they are giving her such a mundane character. I am terrified they are going to make her either into this messed up little victim or bat shit crazy like Matt McNamara eventually became. Please don’t. The signs are already there though with her cutting and the falling for Ben’s psycho patient (though cool skull makeup in his fantasy sequence) though thankfully hopefully that was nipped.

In all, I liked it enough that I want to know more, but I do hope that they find their own voice instead of trying to make a messed up Nip/Tuck with ghosts.

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