Movie Reviews & Interviews from Washington

‘American Horror Story’ Review: Terrifying and Risqué

The newest and scariest FX original series ‘American Horror Story’ combines all the right aspects of the horror genre and squeezes them into an incredible nighttime storytelling show. An hour’s worth of gruesome scenes, mysterious plot lines, and scandalous characters make ‘Horror Story’ worth screaming over.


The new drama had a strong premiere about two weeks ago, scoring about five million viewers. ‘Horror Story’ is equal to the demo rating for ‘Nip/Tuck’ and scored 33 percent higher than ‘Sons of Anarchy,’ one of FX’s most watched shows ever.

‘Horror Story’ is about a Bostonian family who decides to move across country to L.A. into a 1920s Victorian home that (surprise surprise) is haunted. The house has definitely been a prime spot for some murders, but that doesn’t stop the Harmon family from calling it home.

On top of the house being a death zone, the Harmons have several problems of their own. Ben (Dylan McDermott) is a psychiatrist who is caught cheating with one of his students by his wife Vivien (Connie Britton), obviously causing some severe trust issues in their relationship. In addition, Vivien is working through the traumatic experience of having delivered a stillborn child months earlier. Their teenage daughter Violet (Taissa Farmiga, Vera’s younger sister) is far more troubled than the average high schooler and is starved for attention from both parents who can’t give her any at the moment.

Their domineering and creepy neighbors Constance (a colorful Jessica Lange) and her daughter Adelaide (Jamie Brewer) constantly enter the house without permission, disturbing the Harmons, especially when Adelaide says to Vivien, “You’re going to die in here.”

Long-time housekeeper Moira shows up and explains to Vivien that she can take care of the house better than anyone since she knows the grounds best. The mysterious part is Vivien sees Moira as an old woman, while Ben sees her as a seductive young redhead. Is Ben imagining temptation or is Moira a ghost?

The most disturbing line comes at the end of the pilot, when Constance says to Moira, ‘Don’t make me kill you again,’ hinting at signs of a ghostly relationship.

Meet the modern Addams Family.

The show presents two more rather complicated characters. One is Tate (Evan Peters), a troubled teen being treated by Ben, who seems to have a strong likeness for daughter Violet. Tate has outbursts and seems to transform into something freaky when the lights go out. Is Tate human or monster? The other is Larry (‘True Blood’’s Denis O’Hare), a former occupant of the house who tries to warn Ben of his family’s fate if he chooses to stay there. Larry has only interacted with Ben; is he a ghost himself or part of Ben’s imagination?

There are certainly many questions to be answered in this twisted tale, and with the minds of Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuck (creators of ‘Nip/Tuck’ and ‘Glee’) behind the story, I’m sure we’re in for a frightening treat. Of course, since ‘Horror Story’ couldn’t be more different than ‘Glee,’ it makes us wonder what else is going on in those crafty brains of theirs. What other tricks and stories will this duo have for us in the future?

‘Horror Story’ is one to fall in the category of adult television. This is not a show you sit down with the family to watch or discuss at dinner, considering gruesome ghosts, bloody murders, adultery and bondage were just some of the themes presented in the first episode.

‘American Horror Story’ is a show for scary movie fanatics, while the more conservative viewer may just change the channel within the first few minutes of an episode. But with Halloween quickly approaching, I encourage everyone to give the mind twisting and risqué drama a shot.

‘American Horror Story’ airs on Wednesdays at 10 p.m. EST on FX.

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