Tuesday, October 7, 2014

"American Horror Story" (Season One) Murder House

Horror Television has exploded. For fans of “The Twilight Zone” or “The X Files” this is potentially an exciting time. There is an ever expanding list of shows to choose from in search of the subversive, critical, satirical commentary that only the horror genre can supply. “The Walking Dead,” “American Horror Story,” “Grimm,” “Stalker,” Penny Dreadful,” etc. etc. Showtime has even announced that they will be bringing “Twin Peaks” back to small screens. Unfortunately, there is a wealth of mere scares and thrills amidst the list with no effort to communicate anything at all.

“American Horror Story” tends towards the later in its first season. Each season is a different story in a different setting with different characters. That is one of the good things about the show. The idea of taking several episodes to tell a concise story and then ending it seems to be a slightly better approach than milking one concept till it is completely dry. But at its core, “AHS Murder House” seemed to be about pushing the limits of decency where horror television was concerned.

They claim the theme is fidelity/infidelity, but mostly season one tends to be about a house haunted by all the horrible people who have inhabited—and died—in it. Positive elements do include: the intriguing revelation/mystery as to which characters are deceased, the clever element exploring perspective and temptation where the husband sees the old maid as an over-sexualized French maid, and the true shocker regarding the daughter midway through the season. But the show tries to do so much that it loses focus and the story gets out of hand.

The real let-down comes in the last episode. The show has done the typical horror easy job of exposing evils and deficiencies in humanity and society. However, the idea that the core family finds peace and acceptance in a limbo-state of death, in haunting an old, dying building, is frankly more depressing than any of the evil put on display throughout the season.

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