Was it scary? As you might expect, we have a high bar for scary, if only because we’ve seen so many movies and so much TV. You really do get desensitized. One of us has read nearly all of Stephen King’s books (and at a young age too). We’ve lived alone, walked at night, shot guns, jumped out of planes, jumped off of bluffs, helped film an amateur horror movie in the woods, and watched that video of The Hoff really drunk on YouTube. So American Horror Story hasn’t scared us yet, but it has intrigued us, which is something.
The haunted house is gorgeous. Leeard loves houses like that. Ern prefers small apartments, because there is less to clean. But the Harmon family already has a maid, so it’s all good. Actually, it’s far from good. That maid is a troublemaking ghost. We love this character, and we don’t want to say too much about her, in case people reading haven’t seen the show yet.
There’s tons of slightly kinky sexual material in this show so far, and we know there are people who will feel uncomfortable watching that. Mr. Harmon sleepwalks naked, masturbates and then cries, and is constantly trying to get some with his wife, who kind of hates him right now. The couple who lived in the house before the Harmons had a couple of gimp suits in the attic. They were gay men who ended up dead. Mrs. Harmon has sex with a ghost wearing one of those rubber suits, thinking he’s her husband. She enjoys it. We really don’t understand the gimp suit attraction. Other things about S&M are more understandable, but the second someone puts a wetsuit on, we think, “Now how is that hot?”
The scenes at Violet’s high school reminded us of darker versions of Glee scenes. They were over-the-top, unlikely, and funny. We enjoyed seeing the bully get pranked by Violet, her new friend, and some old woman who has “rotting old woman syndrome,” a common syndrome in old women (we know this from TV and movies). We should raise awareness.
Denis O’Hare’s character shows promise, as does Mrs. Harmon’s pregnancy. We also love Jessica Lange’s character, because she is hilarious. As rude, blunt, and strange as she is, she was right to tell Mrs. Harmon off. You never touch someone else’s child without their permission, and you especially don’t touch them in an angry way.
We weren’t sure if we would like the stuff with the troubled marriage, but the couple’s big fight scene was pretty good. We actually feel bad for both parties, and we look forward to getting in their heads. Connie Britton’s acting is better than Dylan McDermott’s though. Ryan Murphy loves having characters with Down Syndrome on his shows, and this is no exception. We like this character. We also like that Mr. Harmon is a psychiatrist. Bringing crazy patients into the haunted house can add to the creep factor.
Overall, this show tried to put every strange and scary thing in its pilot that it could. There were ginger twins, babies in jars, and the supernatural beings messing with people’s heads. There was a little blood, ominous music, and a kid who is two seconds away from shooting everyone he knows. This show needs to imply more, leave more to the imagination, raise a little mystery, let us wonder about the ghosts’ intentions, and drop some hints.
The show needs to be careful, or it's going to get too silly. Its M.O. is to heavy-handedly lay it all out there for us to see. Play some of those cards closer to the chest later on. Horror is all about the build-up. We understand that it might want to attract attention early to get and keep viewers. But now the show has to stay at this level and intensify from here. That might be hard to do. Overall, we liked this though, and we were entertained.
Episode grade: B+