AMERICAN HORROR STORY Pilot Episode Advance Review

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FX Press Release: FX’s new drama series American Horror Story makes its debut on October 5 and will run Wednesdays at 10 PM ET/PT.  American Horror Story, co-created by former Nip/Tuck executive producers and current Glee co-creators/executive producers Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk, revolves around The Harmons, a family of three who move from Boston to Los Angeles as a means to reconcile past anguish. The All Star cast features Dylan McDermott (The Practice) as “Ben Harmon,” a psychiatrist; Connie Britton (Friday Night Lights) as “Vivien Harmon,” Ben’s wife; Taissa Farmiga as “Violet,” the Harmon’s teenage daughter; Jessica Lange (Tootsie, Blue Sky, Grey Gardens) in her first-ever regular series TV role as “Constance,” the Harmon’s neighbor; Evan Peters (One Tree Hill) plays “Tate Langdon,” one of Ben’s patients; and Denis O’Hare (The Good Wife) as “Larry Harvey.” Guest stars for the series include Frances Conroy (Six Feet Under) as the Harmon’s housekeeper; Alexandra Breckenridge (Dirt) as the Harmon’s housekeeper; and Jamie Brewer as Constance’s daughter. The pilot episode of American Horror Story, shot in Los Angeles, was written by Murphy and Falchuk, and it was directed by Murphy. In addition to Murphy and Falchuk, Dante Di Loreto will also serve as Executive Producer of the series.  American Horror Story is produced by Twentieth Century Fox Television.

American Horror Story Pilot Episode Advance Review, Airing 10/5/2011

AMERICAN HORROR STORY will lure you in with curiosity and once you are inside the door will slam shut behind you and you will never look back.  It is a dark drama full of intrigue, violence, suspense, sex and the most delightfully sinister characters.  Jessica Lange’s character, Constance, well just wait until you meet her.  She is my favorite because she makes me uncomfortable and I like that. That is always the true test of any show, if the characters cause you to have an emotional response like fear, anger, hate, love, etc., anything that makes it worth your time to return to their world week after week.  We are after all, just spectators that are allowed a glimpse into the minds of the creators and I have to say, Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk have some brilliantly messed up minds.  The pilot was written by Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk and directed by Ryan Murphy.

I will admit, I didn’t care for the first previews and I thought they were a bit pretentious but when I got the screener and started watching the show, I was instantly hooked. I love being surprised by something I thought I would hate.  I got a chance to see the second episode and I like where they are going with this series. It certainly will not appeal to everyone but you can say that about every show.  How dull would the world be if we all enjoyed the same things?   I am a huge fan of the horror genre and this series is like getting treated to a weekly horror feature.  It meshes together all the best classic horror elements like things in jars, strobe lights, creepy twins, ominous undertones, glorious special effects makeup design, mysterious characters, dark corners, dirty basements, attic items left behind and the most important thing, it shows you just enough and leaves the rest up to your imagination.  I’m reluctant to compare it to any shows or films because it really does take on a life of its own.

“You’re going to die” is a phrase that is repeated a lot in the pilot and who wouldn’t be curious as to why Adelaide (Jamie Brewer) (Kaitlyn Reed) is so adamant in her opinion of what is going to happen to the occupants of the house. We are briefly introduced to the house and Adelaide in 1978 and then we meet the lovely, present day, family of three that are looking to purchase the house.  Ben Harmon (Dylan McDermott), Vivien Harmon (Connie Britton) and their daughter Violet (Taissa Farminga) move to Los Angeles from Boston to start over.  Prior discretions have them longing for a fresh start.

I am so happy that Dylan McDermott is back because I was really enjoying him in Dark Blue and it was cancelled.  If you love Dylan McDermott, then get ready to give him a standing ovation for this role.  Ben is a psychiatrist and he sees patients at the house and that plays perfectly into the story.  Keep in mind, this show airs on FX, so get ready to see boundaries pushed and Dylan is not afraid to show some skin.  Ben is an interesting character, he’s self-involved and the conversation that he has with Vivien about his actions and how she responded to them will make you go, “What?” in your best Joey Boca (Kevin Kline) voice from I Love You to Death.  I can’t wait to see how his character develops.  Ben has a lot of interesting moments in the pilot.

I’m not really familiar with Connie Britton and in fact, the only film I saw her in was A Nightmare on Elm Street (2010) and all I have to say is shame on me for sitting through almost all of it.  That has nothing to do with her, the movie was awful.  I do really like her in the show, so I am looking forward to getting to know her and her character, Vivien.  Vivien has been through a lot and she hasn’t left the past behind her.  She wants to move forward but she can’t and it is understandable.

Jessica Lange is spectacular as Constance and the things that she says will make your skin crawl.  The first time she appeared on screen I was instantly drawn to her and her wicked ways.  I love juicy characters.  You will find yourself going back to a scene to make sure you heard it right the first time.  I have news for you, you did and she really did say that.  “Mongoloid” is just a taste of some of the things that will be uttered by Constance.  Jessica is positively brilliant in this role.

Violet is not a fan of her new school and she gets in trouble.  Tate Langdon (Evan Peters) is one of Ben’s patients that express an interest in Violet.  Tate thinks of the world as “filthy” and he likes stories. Violet confides in him and shares some of her past with him and he offers his assistance.

Moira is the housekeeper played be Frances Conroy and Alexandra Breckenridge, go a bit Wilfred on this one and you will understand.  Moira has been taking care of the house for years and Ben is really surprised that Vivien wants to hire her.

Ben and Vivien are struggling to remain close and Ben decides to lay his frustrations out on the table and brings up their sex life which is described as “a little weird.” I’m assuming we will revisit that at a later time.  Things do get a little weird, okay, really weird but that is exactly why this show is so fantastic.

Ben encounters Larry Harvey (Denis O’Hare) and they talk about the house and share some Los Angeles trivia, such as “peaking in windows is still a crime, even in L.A.”  Larry adds the final old school horror touch and we will see if he has a lasting impact on Ben.

I don’t want to spoil things for you, so I am going to let you watch how things unfold.  I will tell you that I was pleasantly surprised by how much I loved the pilot.  It is what has been missing in the horror world, so enjoy it.  I can’t wait to learn more about the characters and see how the pieces fit together.  Don’t miss the premiere of American Horror Story only on FX

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