After accepting an invite to watch a screening for Glee creator Ryan Murphyâs new series for FX, I was expecting a fairly easy ride. A few nerds, maybe a bit of singing, but my rather grey Tuesday morning ended up pumped with enough blood, sex and naked bottoms to sully the students of McKinley High for life.
American Horror Story launched on American TV last week and was met with mixed reviews, ranging from delirious enthusiasm to scornful hatred. To be honest I envy those who are actually able to work out what the hell is going on, let alone state such a strong opinion.
The opening episode of the series introduces viewers to the Harman family, who are looking for a fresh start in LA after having, what can only be described as, a pretty bad year. Psychiatrist Ben (Dylan McDermott) is married to ex-cellist and grieving mother Vivian (Connie Britton). This poor woman recently suffered a miscarriage and promptly walked in on her husband âpilingâ? (her words, not mine) into one of his young patients. Nothing like sex with a mentally disturbed minor to sort out a failing marriage. Meanwhile their daughter Violet (Taissa Faminga), a depressed Wednesday Addams wannabe, is bursting with her own teenage angst and spends most evenings self-harming.
Opening with possibly the most clichÃ©d horror set piece of all time, a pair of young twins (possibly members of the Weasley family) dare each other to venture into a creepy old mansion house. Grisly events unfold and when we fast forward thirty years, guess which house the Harman family are purchasing. Why canât these people recognise an estate-agent-who-knows-more-than-sheâs-letting-on when they see her?
There are plenty of familiar horror routines; cue creepy neighbours, Dad hearing voices (a la The Amityville Horror) and screeching Psycho violins aplenty. But it is hard to tell whether these are acts of homage to some of the greatest on-screen horror stories ever made, or whether Murphy is just been darned lazy. That said there are also some very…inventive…scenes which are surely a TV first. Mum being raped by anonymous gimp anyone?
But then I always think there is a lot to be said for camp gore and psychosexual tension, it certainly makes a change from a Corrie double bill (now that the Duckworths are gone). Fans of popular early 90s TV show, Twin Peaks, may be best placed to enjoy the bewildering pace and extravagant action AHS has to offer. But more adventurous TV viewers and horror fans may also be glad to hear that AHS is a genuinely creepy watch.
This lurid whirlwind of a season opener featured more sub-plots than you can shake a murdered cat at (another TV first?). With any luck episode two will spend a little bit more time explaining and developing some of the more crazed extra characters.
Watch the first episode of American Horror Story on UK FX, Monday 7th November at 10pm.