Friday, November 11, 2011

American Horror Story: Review (So Far)

When I saw the trailer for American Horror Story a month ago it looked interesting, but since I haven't watched F/X since season 2 of Nip/Tuck I set my DVR to record it. Since then I sort of forgot about it until recently and I finally found some time today to watch the first 5 episodes.

My first reaction was excitement because there hasn't been a good supernatural weekly show on basic cable for years. I said good supernatural weekly show. Let's go through a list, so you know where I'm coming from.

Supernatural - Boring. I couldn't make it through a whole episode.
Vampire Diaries - I can't get with it. It's like the TV version of Twilight.
Teen Wolf - I'd like to pretend this never happened. (See also the above)
Being Human (U.S. version) - No Bueno. The vampire guy's face hurts my TV screen.
Fringe - It will never be The X Files. NEVER.

This is not to say that there are no good supernatural shows. There were a few that I have enjoyed for example:

Being Human (British version): This one wasn't great, but it is better than the U.S. version with the exception that I like the American actress who plays the ghost girl better that the British actress.

True Blood - I like it for lines like "I am so over Sookie and her precious fairy vagina and her unbelievably stupid name. F**k Sookie!" I even forgive them for that season with the Maenad that I didn't care about. Plus I've read the first four books, and book Sookie is so much more kick ass than TV Sookie. They have damn near Bella Swaned her something fierce.

Misfits - (Not sure if this should count since it doesn't even come on TV in the U.S.) Let me say this I would much prefer they give us a Channel 4 America instead of the BBC America station, because all BBC America plays is Top Gear 10 hours of the day and Dr. Who for another 10, then sprinkle in Ramsey's "yelling at people who cook" (I don't know the real name, but that's what it should be called), add a dash of Star Trek Next Gen, and finish it off with a few episodes of Being Human every now and again. If we had Channel 4 America I could have watched Misfits, Shameless, and I'm pretty sure Skins was on channel 4 as well. For the record, I'm still not sold on this new guy on Misfits, he's no Robert Sheehan.

What was my point again? Oh, yeah. I was excited for American Horror Story (AHS) to start, because it looked promising. It made me reminisce about older series like Twin Peaks and American Gothic, which is what I think they were going for. The thing is, as many things that are great about the show, there are just as many that really bugged.

My first criticism is that the show doesn't seem to know what it wants to be. One moment they are trying to set up a horror show, the next it's more like a thriller. It reminded me of the switcheroo they pulled back in the day with Freddy's Nightmares, where the first few episodes had Freddy Krueger in them, then all of a sudden the show totally changed direction. For my younger readers, this is Freddy's Nightmares:

I never said it was good, just that they switched it up after a few episodes. Anyway AHS started out really engaging with the twin boys tearing up the house and the little girl warning them that they were gonna die. I loved that they used actresses that had Down's Syndrome to play Adelaide. She is one of show's best characters. As is the daughter Violet, and Tate the neighbor/patient of Violet's dad Ben. I liked the set up with the creature in the basement. Then it got sloppy.

They had Violet lure her bully in the basement at Tate's urging, and the creature attacks her only to be forgotten about for two episodes so we can watch daddy Ben's boring crisis. Am I the only one who couldn't give two $h!ts about his affair or his wive's woe is me attitude. If the affair bothered her enough to stab him, why didn't she leave him and keep on truckin. No, she would rather stay in a loveless marriage and just remind him everyday how he betrayed her. He is just as much of a jack-ass. He needed to leave if he felt the need to be with another woman in the first place. In short, their relationship is fu¢ked and I don't see why this show thinks I should care. I want the monster in the basement to eat both parents.

I watched each episode back to back and ffwd through the commercials so this experience was like watching a 2 1/2 hour movie to me; which is why I am not breaking this review up by episodes. I will say that I like how with each progressing episode they introduce a little more and more of the back story of the house. The scenes with the previous owners are really intriguing. Jessica Lange as the neighbor Constance is great, even though I didn't care for her character at first, she grew on me. So did her psychotic son, who seems to be modeled after Kurt Cobain and the Columbine H.S. shooters.

I know I mentioned it before but Taissa Farmiga as Violet is great as well. I think it's a combination of the actress' talent and how her character is written that make her really engaging. In my opinion the show should center around her and how she is dealing with seeing ghosts and living with a monster/demon/creature in the basement. The show really comes to life with her scenes and Constance's scenes. As I said before I don't care about Ben and Vivian's marital problems because:
A. They are both horribly annoying people.
B. What has that got to do with all the ghosts and the monster/demon/creature in the basement?
(As an aside, they say on the show that Vivian is in her 40's but she doesn't look a day under 50. This is not a criticism, just an observation.)

O.K. I give them credit with the possible demon child storyline. I totally forgot about weird pyromaniac dude. He was interesting at first, but now he's just annoying. The original owners story was interesting, I liked that one. The gay couple was meh just a mirror image of Ben and Vivian's relationship, and shockingly I don't care about their issues either.

My final thoughts so far:  The best parts have been the scenes with Addy, Violet, Constance, Tate and the teens that Tate killed. The reveal that Tate is dead was a great surprise! I was sad that Addy was killed. I still do not care about Vivian and Ben. One other thing that bugged me. It's like a cl!t tease of horror. I mean they ratchet up the suspense and make you feel like, "Something scary is about to happen, something scary is about to happen! Wait for it, wait for it. Well. That was not scary at all." The makers of this show need to understand the difference between horror and thriller. This should be called American Thriller Story, but I guess that wasn't catchy.

Anyway for what it is worth it's not bad. At least it's new and not another freaking remake, retelling, retread. It should just pull a Paranormal Activity and kill off the dad already, though or at least vastly rewrite his character.


  1. Good review, although I'll probably NEVER watch it again. The first episode was boring, I'd rather watch flies have sex, I'd rather count the dandruff flakes on the shoulders of my black shirt. I'd rather watch a Margret Cho comedy special. I'd rather watch Twilight, sitting cross-legged on the floor nude, eating a banana sandwich on top of an old bongo, while Right Said Fred's "I'm Too Sexy" plays quietly in the background.....wait....did I know what? Forget that last statement....

  2. 1st- Tony Man is a liar, he would NOT rather watch Twilight and I put that on my momma. Ten minutes of Breaking Dawn Part 1 would break him, an hour would destroy him.

    2nd- I watched all 7 episodes back to back online. The only character that doesn't make sense to me is the teenage daughter.
    I get it, you're raging against the machine, but your also stupid as hell.

    U mean to tell me after EVERYTHING u have seen, and EVERYTHING you've experienced in that town you're going to throw a fit about leaving? Buuuuuuuuuuuullshit!

    The kid playing the teenage psycho as neighbor boy is a great actor, but I hate his eyes. They are too damn dark, and it freaks me out.

    Maybe cuz I watched more episodes than you I get the wife more than her daughter because (trying not to give too much away) she seems to get smarter, while the daughter gets dumber.

    The husband however, is a damn idiot yet I find his actions believable. Maybe because I've seen hundreds of dudes just like him on ID Network. SMH

    As for the half burnt dude, you have his description wrong. Lets just say they reveal later that his previous story was a lie. I like him a LOT, he makes me LOL. What he did to the mistress chick was effing hilarious, I'm sorry.

    I like how the show mixes fear with comedy. I don't know if you got to the episode with the dude afraid of mirrors, but that started bizarre, then seemed scary, and ended funny as hell.

    Basically this show is fun because it is random as hell. I will say it needs more horror like episode 1-3 and less Thriller like episode 4-6. I think they had to slow it down to reveal more of the back story. I can tell the writer wrote out each character in detail BEFORE adding the horror.

    In film this is forgivable, but in TV not so much. That is because the audience expects the beginning middle and end to be a duplicate of the previous episode from week to week. Difficult to tell a story in but not impossible.

    The other the issue is that some stories are better than others, but I keep wondering if it only seems that way on the surface.

    For instance (SPOILER ALERT)The teenage boy is told to use as a Columbine like killer. In the context of horror, it doesn't quite fit. Now if his reason for going on a shooting rampage had to do with the house.

    Perhaps a possession type of situation, either by something in the basement or a dead sibling (his mom said she had four children but so far the story has only covered 3. Hmm)then that does qualify as a horror story ala Amityville.

    Again the problem with that is it requires the audience to have faith enough to stick with it to get to the "horror". Bad planning. You have to pack the horror punch into each episode not every 3rd episode.

    I'm going to see if they get that. It's first season. I've watched a lot of mediocre 1st seasons, great 2nd seasons, and amazing 3rd seasons. Married With Children, and The Simpsons were like that. The X-Files was like that too.

  3. I agreed with your article, but I'm disappointed with your analysis of Supernatural in how its "boring". With the witty dialogue, the amazing male leads, and the creative storyline, it's hard to imagine Supernatural as boring. But I respect your opinion, so you'll have no bashing from me lol. Thanks for this article, I tried watching an episode of AHS, but it simply was too predictable for me.


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