Filled with deceiving maids, a Stepford-wife neighbor, a half burned man, and a hunky protagonist, “American Horror Story” may be the most exciting show on TV.
It premiered on Oct. 5, to both skeptical and intrigued viewers.
The show is spawned from the genius behind “Glee” and “Nip/Tuck,” the latter being what gave Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk their initial fan base.
“American Horror Story” follows an average American family, the Harmons, escaping the horrors of their past only to be greeted by new horrors of a haunted house.
Going into the fourth episode, centered on Halloween, this terrifying series has confused, scared, excited and burned itself into the minds of all viewers.
Though the premiere episode might have come off as pure shock value, the next two episodes proved it to be worth watching.
The pilot, like the rest of the episodes, begins with a flashback. Though flashbacks can be cliché and highly unnecessary, “American Horror Story” relies on them, and they never disappoint.
The first episode has a flashback that shows only a glimpse of the existing horror, when twin boys entered an abandoned house in the 1970s, only to never be let out.
The second episode shows a 1960s double homicide with two nurses viciously murdered.
The third episode shows the creepy neighbor, played by Jessica Lange, shooting her husband for having sex with the maid.
Each episode is structured around the flashback, having whatever occurred in the past cause a ripple effect to the present day.
The flashbacks are only one part of why this show is both intriguing and scary. Another big facet is the actors themselves.
Dylan McDermott plays the father, Ben, a wounded psychiatrist trying to get his family back.
Lange’s plastic face, dreamy eyes and cool demeanor make the viewers shiver anytime she tries to be a friendly neighbor.
Kevin Peters plays the sexually troubled teen, Tate, switching between the creepy patient and mysterious male neighbor with obvious ease. The sexual tension between his character and Ben’s daughter, Violet, is a build up that will last all season, especially since he is one of Ben’s most dangerous patients.
The mother, played by Connie Britton, is the matriarch of the family, struggling with a baby on board and an unfaithful husband.
Violet, played by Taissa Farmiga, is the only character that doesn’t pretend to be okay, being fully aware of her parents’ crumbling marriage and her inability to know where she fits in both her family and society.
Many of the characters are at odds with each other, which adds an air of violence without being too bloody.
Ben is in competition with Tate, since he is the closest friend to the one person he can’t understand, his own daughter.
When their home is invaded in episode two by crime scene re-enactors, it is Tate that helps Violet and her mother, while Ben is across the country dealing with his illegitimate child.
The neighbor, Constance, has a problem with everyone, even her own daughter, who is mentally disabled.
The second episode shows the little girl interrupting her mother while with a lover. Instead of yelling at her, Constance throws her into a room filled with mirrors, walking away to a soundtrack of her screams.
The most suspenseful part of the show is not the question of which characters are enemies, but which characters are working together. The second episode closes with Tate, Constance and the maid speaking among themselves in an all too friendly manner over two dead bodies.
The last and most important part of the show is the directing itself.
The camera angles make the audience feel as if they are in the story, and not in a “Blair Witch” shaky camera way.
This is best seen in episode two during the flashback of the 1960s murders.
When an intruder fakes his way into the house, two nurses sit him down on the couch to clean a “wound” that he has.
The camera is looking up from the table at this point, right next to an ashtray.
Once the one nurse realizes there is no wound, the intruder grabs the ashtray and smashes her in the head. When she wakes up she is sitting on the couch with her head facing the ceiling.
Both the camera and audience follow her eyes as she brings her head upright, with the intruder slowly coming into her sight. This build up makes the viewers feel as if they are on the incline of a rollercoaster, and seeing the intruder’s body slowly coming into the shot is the horrifying decline.
The shot of the ashtray works artistically as well as advancing the plot, since it goes from being a normal object to a weapon.
Even though there have only been three episodes, “American Horror Story” is already a hit and leaves many horror shows and movies buried six feet under.
The macabre stew of guilt, sex and isolation makes every character three dimensional, and every scene hard to look away from.
If the rest of the season is as enticing as the first three episodes, viewers will be asking the question “Amityville what?”
To view Krenek’s review of the series episode by episode, select the tag “American Horror Story,” or type it into our search.