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Friday, October 14, 2011

Are there too many homages in this show?

American Horror Story - "Home Invasion"

The episode started in 1968 and two nursing students (including pregnant coffee girl from Parenthood) are murdered by an intruder, mirroring real-life events from that time. It was a pretty good and creepy first scene. This episode is all about the fear most people have of someone breaking into their home. We find that a nice big gun helps nicely in this area, but we digress with our totally unsolicited political opinions…. Back in the present day, Violet and her bully, Leah, are getting along better and are able to discuss the incident with the rotting corpse attacker. Violet thinks it was Tate’s sleight of hand that produced the frightening images, but Leah’s money is on “the Devil.”

Crazy, wonderful Constance baked cupcakes with spit and ipecac (the syrup that causes vomiting), and she went to the Harmons’ house to give them to Violet. We know why she has a beef with Mrs. Harmon, but what does Constance have against Violet? Constance talks to Vivian as she drops the cupcakes off, telling Vivian that three out of four of her children were born with Down Syndrome. Then she rhapsodizes about her perfect fourth child, a boy. She lamented that she lost him to “other things.” Ben sees a patient named Bianca who is having a recurring nightmare (that we are shown) that she is cut in half by an elevator. This is one of Ern’s top five fears, so seeing it was just freaking dandy. Bianca turns out to be casing the house.

Ben Harmon is called away by the student he slept with, Hayden. It turns out that she is pregnant, and she wants support from the “father” while she gets an abortion. They do not sleep together, but Ben lies to Vivien about his reasons for going back to Boston, at Larry Harvey’s request. We were a little annoyed that the husband was gone during the home invasion episode. What message does that send? That you’ll be safe as long as you have a man to live with? In The Strangers, Funny Games, and many other home invasion movies, the horror was all the stronger for the men being unable to stop the attackers. It made the invaders seem invincible and strong.

But it was interesting to meet the big pot of crazy, Hayden. She’s a Stage Five Clinger, no doubt. Ben took her to the doctor’s office, and she disappeared to have the procedure. In the waiting room, Ben saw that he had 13 panicked missed calls from his wife, so he ran home immediately. A female stalker would fit in with the horror motif, so Ben might be seeing Hayden again. In fact, we think you can count on it. And she might not have gone through with the abortion.

Vivien and Violet weren’t getting along, because Violet doesn’t think it’s healthy to have a baby when you are over 40…or to try and fix your marriage with one. Violet calls her mother “weak,” which is sort of harsh in comparison with her mother’s crime of interrupting her reading of Camus’ “The Stranger,” a book we didn’t care for. Vivien is scared about the pregnancy, because it “feels wrong” (*cough* it’s a monster or a demon *cough*) and she hasn’t been nauseated yet.

Bianca, Guy, and Fiona idolize the ‘60s killer who butchered the nurses in the Harmons’ house, so they break in and try to get a reenactment going. They turned out to be really incompetent. With some gumption from Vivien and Violet, along with some help from Tate and the ghosts of the murder victims, all three of the intruders were killed. Tate and Constance got rid of the bodies. Tate is a ghost?! Wait, that’s not surprising. Bianca was cut in half by Tate’s axe, echoing her dream. She also spent some time throwing up, because she ate Constance’s cupcakes.

At some point during the home invasion, Addy was there and saw an intruder terrorizing Vivien. Addy went to get help, but her mother was trying to sex up her gardener, Travis, and didn’t want to be interrupted. When Addy persisted, Constance locked her in “the bad girl closet,” which is a closet full of mirrors. Addy screamed in horror, because she is acutely aware that she doesn’t look like girls in magazines. Don’t worry, Addy. Nobody does. Also, please tell us that Travis doesn’t turn out to be Constance’s perfect son.

How much culture commentary are we going to get with this show? We admit that this would be a better platform for messages than a singing show with high school kids. With the mirrors, women’s magazines, Constance’s sexuality, the vomiting and the Karen Carpenter songs played in the background at times, our (sort of) keen eyes picked out a “women’s bodies/beauty pressure” motif going on here. There were plenty of Charles Manson references too, if you’re into him, which some people are, because they think he’s interesting. We think he’s a douchebag. If you are going to do something awful, at least have the balls to do your dirty work yourself.

We still think that this show needs to build up some tension rather than just give us shock after twisted shock/sex scenario.

Episode grade: B+

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