Monday, October 10, 2011

American Horror Story on FX

A new series started on FX called, American Horror Story and my daughters were going to watch it on demand yesterday, so I joined in. There are three reason why I wanted to watch it: first, to spend some time with the girls sharing a mutual interest, second because I always loved the horror genre and third because I saw that Dylan McDermott was starring in. It’s a far cry from the Practice and he looks a little older, but so what, don’t we all?

We sit down to watch and it starts off like all the horror movies we have ever seen. They pull out all the stops on horror gimmicks, but that doesn’t dissuade me from watching. Even my older daughter, who dislikes horror movies, kept getting pulled back in. You can watch the first episode on demand and the second one airs Wednesdays at 10 PM. Now I am going to write about the storyline, so stop here if you intend to watch.

It opens in 1978, in front of a run down, haunted type house, covered with ivy. Outside there is a little girl who just stands there looking at it. Two boys, homely looking 13/14 year old twins with bats in their hands, are about to enter the house and do some serious damage. The little girls says, “If you go in there you will die.” One of the boys yells at her menacingly and they go on and enter the house, smashing lights, windows and anything that will break. The go down to the basement (big mistake) and see a dead possum oozing blood (this is where I scream at my younger daughter who already watched it and gave me no warning). There are jars all around the basement containing things like little baby body parts and one a whole fetus. One of the evil twins smashes the jar with the baby on the cement floor and releases a “demon” who slits his throat. When the other twin realizes his brother is missing he returns down the steps the get his throat cut.

Fast forward to 2011. Dylan is a married psychiatrist and professor with a teenage daughter. One day Dylan’s pregnant wife comes up unexpectedly to catch him in their bedroom, having sex with a student. She is pissed and miscarries. They remain together, but she cannot have sex with him leaving poor Dylan quite frustrated. In order to start over, they decide to move away. The haunted house described above has been remodeled and in for sale at 25% the cost of the other houses in the area. Full disclosure laws compel the real estate agent to tell them that the previous owners died in the house, a murder/suicide. That doesn’t dissuade them from purchasing the house (otherwise we would have no show). They quickly move in and get settled. Their first uninvited visitor is the little girl who warned the boys about the house. Her mother, played by Jessica Lange, claims they live next door and her daughter is infatuated with the house. Jessica also pops in uninvited and makes herself comfortable, while she relays some of her past the Dylan’s wife.

Dylan, meanwhile, is treating a very strange teenage boy who is quite likely a psychopath. The boy wanders around the house after his session with Dylan and makes friends with Dylan’s daughter. Dylan’s daughter is a “cutter” and uses her dad’s razor blades to slash her arm. The boy sees her and says she needs to slice vertically if she wants to kill herself because that can’t be stitched up. (Isn’t that great information to pass along to millions of depressed teenagers?) The two become fast friends. Dylan’s daughter is being ganged up on at school for smoking. The psycho boy tells her to invite the ringleader over her house telling her she has drugs she sells. The ruse works and the next day the bully from school shows up. She is lead to the basement where psycho boy awaits and scares the life out of her and Dylan’s daughter. When Dylan’s daughter tells him to leave and never come back, he is royally pissed! (I suspect he is dead as are the young girl, Jessica Lange and other characters who haunt the house).

Meanwhile, the old housekeeper, who says she has been taking care of the house for years and under many owners, shows up asking for a job. At first Dylan’s wife isn’t inclined to hire her, but eventually thinks it would be a good idea to have some help. Dylan walks into the kitchen and is introduced to the “housekeeper.” While the wife sees a woman who is about sixty or so, Dylan sees a seductive, hot red head, in her 20’s. He is shocked that his wife wants to hire her considering that he cheated on her with a younger woman, but he is all for it.

Dylan seems to have developed a habit of walking in his sleep, naked. If you would like to see Dylan from the back, completely naked, several times, tune in. He is in shape. It may be the only redeeming aspect of the show, depending on how much you like cheesy horror. One day Dylan hears his wife scream up in the attic. He runs up and sees her looking at a suit of armor. Later that day they make mad, passionate love and it seems all is forgiven. At bedtime, Dylan’s wife sees a man in a suit of armor standing at the bedroom door. She assumes it’s Dylan (I don’t) and thinks he wants another round of kinky sex. She succumbs to her desires and they make love. I could see it was Dylan’s eyes in the suit (which wasn’t really made of armor but black material), but you can’t trust anything in a horror show. A few days later, his wife announces she is pregnant! Rosemary’s baby anyone? I suspect a demon child is growing inside his wife now.

For a little teaser, Jessica Lange is in Dylan and his wife’s bedroom, looking through the jewelry box for something she likes when the housekeeper catches her. They exchange some words. The housekeeper says she can’t take anything or she will be suspected. Jessica basically tells her to shut up or “she will kill her again!” So the cat is out of the bag.

A man, scarred by fire, follows Dylan on his run and warns him to move his family out of that house. He himself was a victim of the demons when he lived there. They made him burn down the house killing his wife and two daughters. But, Dylan doesn’t appreciate the advice and threatens the man. Psycho patient is on the loose. Dylan tries to report him to the police to track down, but they don’t seem to take him seriously.

There you have it. Just think of all your favorite horror shows combined and you have American Horror Story. This is definitely not a show for young viewers. Dylan is naked and even violently masturbates in one long scene. The dead baby’s head in the jar, the outrageous dialogue, blood, violence, sex…it’s all there. Maybe I will get the characters’ straight at some point, but there was always something distracting me from keeping track of them.

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