Thursday, January 24, 2013

Penny Thoughts ‘13—American Horror Story (2011) ***½

TV-MA, 12 45-min. episodes
Creators: Ryan Murphy, Brad Falchuk

Directors: Ryan Murphy, Alfonso Gomez-Rejon, Bradley Buecker, David Semel, Michael Uppendahl, Tim Hunter, Miguel Arteta, John Scott, Michael Lehman

Writers: Ryan Murphy, Brad Falchuk, Jennifer Salt, James Wong, Tim Minear, Jessica Sharzer

Starring: Connie Britton, Dylan McDermott, Evan Peters, Taissa Farmiga, Denis O’Hare, Jessica Lange, Frances Conroy, Alexandra Breckenridge, Christine Estabrook, Jamie Brewer, Kate Mara, Mageina Tovah, Azura Skye, Michael Graziadei, Lily Rabe, Matt Ross, Zachary Quinto, Teddy Sears, Morris Chestnut, Bohdi Schulz, Kai Schulz, Eric Stonestreet, Sarah Paulson, Joshua Malina, Mena Suvari, Charles S. Dutton, Rebecca Wisocky, W. Earl Brown, Mayala Rivera Drew, Gregory Rivas

The second season of “American Horror Story” ended its run last night. The creators say that it was always their intention that each season be a separate storyline, although they use many of the same actors in each story playing unrelated characters. I’ve already started my run through “American Horror Story: Asylum” and am impressed by how different they’ve made the second season. But this entry is about the first season, which I guess would be subtitled “House”.

The first season is a good old-fashioned haunted house story. Well, maybe not so old fashioned, since they managed to work in a mass killing at a school, bondage and a homosexual relationship, but for the most part, it’s just a haunted house.

It’s easy to see why the show was a phenomenon at first. The rate of murder on it is surprising. If that house filled up every year at the rate it did in this one year, it would find ghosts bursting from its seams before too long. But then, that’s really why anyone watches a horror television show—grizzly murder. Who doesn’t love that?

Creators Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk do a great job establishing the atmosphere and mystery of the show. When the Harmons move in, when know the house is bad news, but no one could ever predict the number of twists that will take place over the course of twelve short episodes. No one could ever predict the level of narcissism floating around in that house either, but then when your dead you have to build your self up somehow. And nepotism… I mean these guys have some serious issues. That is what drives television these days, isn’t it?

The show had me almost all the way. The last few episodes held revelations, however, that were slightly underwhelming. I stress slightly. I’m not sure anything could’ve lived up to the show’s build up. The last episode in particular only seemed to contain about 15 minutes of necessary material. The rest seemed to be burning time. However, if you like to freak yourself out with horror in a way that the social commentary of “The Walking Dead” could never provide, you can’t do much worse than “American Horror Story”. 

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