I remember reading about this show before the first season premiered (in October 2011). I don't think I was that interested in watching it, but in any event I couldn't, because I didn't have FX, at the time. But the show was well-received, so it got more seasons, which are each entirely different from one another, and they each have their own subtitle. (Season one, originally just called "American Horror Story," retroactively took on the subtitle "Murder House.") Which makes it sort of an anthology, by season rather than by episode. (Each season could also be considered a limited series. And many of the same actors play different roles in different seasons.) Anyway, I later decided I would like to check it out someday. I finally watched the first season on DVD in 2016, though I wasn't sure when I might get to see any other seasons. But in 2018, I found that I could watch all the seasons on Amazon Video. So I that's how I watched season 2, in the weeks leading up (and after) to Halloween. (I expect I'll watch further seasons more than once per year, rather than relegate the series to October. But I'll take breaks between each season, so it'll take me awhile to catch up.)
tek's rating: ½
American Horror Story: Murder House
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In 2011, a psychiatrist named Dr. Ben Harmon (Dylan McDermott) moves from Boston to Los Angeles, with his wife, Vivien (Connie Britton), and their teenage daughter Violet (Taissa Farmiga). Ben and Vivien's marriage hasn't been doing so well, since she had a miscarriage and he cheated on her with a student of his named Hayden McClaine (Kate Mara). Their moving across the country is part of an attempt at a fresh start, I guess. But the house they chose to move into was rather a bad one. There have been numerous murders there, throughout the house's long history. There's a woman named Constance Langdon (Jessica Lange) who lives across the street with her daughter, Addie, who has Down Syndrome. (Addie is an adult now, but Constance still treats her like a child. And Addie kind of acts like one, frequently breaking into the Harmons' house because her "friends" are there. By which I guess she means the ghosts of people who have died there, over the years.) Meanwhile, Ben has a home office where he sees patients. One of them is a possibly psychotic teenage boy named Tate (Evan Peters), who befriends Violet, against Ben's wishes. And there's a maid named Moira O'Hara, who has worked at the house for a long time, through various owners. She now begins working for the Harmons. However, while everyone else sees her as an older, rather prim woman (Frances Conroy), Ben sees her as a sexy young woman (Alexandra Breckenridge) who frequently tries to seduce him. There's also a man named Larry Harvey (Denis O'Hare), who has severe burn scars. He's a former owner of the house, who tells Ben he had burned his family to death, and went to prison for it, but has recently been released because of a fatal illness he has. He tries to blackmail Ben over a matter concerning Hayden, but I don't want to reveal the specifics of that. There's also a black latex bondage suit that Ben and Vivien found in the attic when they moved into the house, which Ben threw away. But it makes numerous appearances throughout the season, and it will be some time before it's revealed who's wearing it.
Throughout the season, we'll see flashbacks to the house's previous owners (and how they died), all of which ultimately plays into developments in the present. The house was built in 1922 for its original owners, Dr. Charles Montgomery (Matt Ross) and his wife, Nora (Lily Rabe), who both died there in 1926. In 1947, the house was owned by a dentist named Dr. David Curan (Joshua Malina). In 1968, there were several nursing students living in the house. In 1983, Constance lived there with her husband, Hugo (Eric Close), and their children. In 1993, Larry Harvey lived there with his wife and daughters. Later that year, Constance and her children moved back into the house. In 2010, the house is owned by Chad Warwick (Zachary Quinto) and his boyfriend, Patrick. And there were any number of other owners, over the decades (some of whom were seen in an online thing that I never saw). And sometimes the house was unoccupied, at least by anyone living. (There are plenty of ghosts of people who have died there, though. Well, and maybe one other inhabitant that I don't really want to specify anything about.)
Anyway... lots of bizarre (often ludicrous) and creepy stuff happens throughout the season's 12 episodes. The ghosts all appear to be living people, which means it takes a long time for the Harmons to accept that the house is haunted, although Vivien decides she wants to sell the house in the second episode, for a non-supernatural (but no less creepy) reason. Anyway, I don't want to spoil any more of the plot, but I will say there's one thing about the nature of the ghosts that really doesn't make sense to me. And... well, probably lots of things about the show don't make sense, actually. Still, I found it reasonably entertaining, nicely creepy and atmospheric, sometimes surprising, and I found most of the characters interesting. There are lots of other characters I haven't mentioned, but I will now, just because I want to name-drop some familiar actors. Sarah Paulson plays a medium named Billie Dean Howard. Morris Chestnut plays a home security officer named Luke. Mena Suvari plays an aspiring actress in 1947 named Elizabeth Short (a real historical figure). Alessandra Torresani plays a high school student in 1994 named Stephanie Boggs. And I might want to add more characters to the list later, if their actors become more familiar to me from other things, or if the actors show up in other seasons of AHS.