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American Horror Story: Series Premiere Review

American Horror Story is a new horror drama from “Nip/Tuck” creator and “Glee” co-creators Brad Falchuk and Ryan Murphy that premieres this evening on FX. I’ve watched the first two episodes of the series and my review for episode one, “Pilot”, follows over the jump.

American Horror Story centers on a family of three; Husband and wife, Connie Britton (Vivien Harmon), Dylan McDermott (psychiatrist Ben Harmon), and their teenage daughter Taissa Farmiga (Violet Harmon). Seeking a fresh start after Vivien has a miscarriage and after she discovers her husband Ben in bed with a 21-year old, the family decides to pack up and move to a mansion…which turns out to be haunted.

First things first, American Horror Story is a freaky, adult-centered horror series. There’s absolutely no mistaking that. Of the two episodes I’ve watched, there is really no grey area. It fits totally within the horror genre. There are few, if any, moments where the creators intend for the audience to perceive anything other than horror. And I’ll admit up-front that this isn’t a genre I would normally ever gravitate towards, but that’s beside the point, because although it’s scary and mysterious and absolutely freaky in areas, there are problems as well.

Chief among the series’ problems, at least in my opinion, is that it’s just, for the lack of a better word, odd. It’s well-acted and sufficiently creepy throughout, but it has a very hard edge that could certainly turn viewers off.  The style of the series absolutely seems to be taking on an approach that the mystery surrounding the haunted mansion will be exposed through the lives of its former occupants (most of whom were killed in the house).

In addition to Britton, McDermott and Fermiga, the series also stars Jessica Lange as Constance as the family’s neighbor, and the actress is a current bright spot for the series. Frances Conroy also stars in the series as the mansion’s maid. What’s significant about her role is that to Britton’s character and everyone else, she appears her real age, but to her husband, she appears as a younger, sexier version of herself played by the stunning Alexandra Breckinridge. Needless to say, this creates some very interesting moments with McDermott’s character. Evan Peters also stars as a patient of Ben and Denis O’Hare plays “Burnt Man”, a former occupant of the house.

All in all, American Horror Story is hinting towards exploring the mysterious elements of the haunted house, and could prove to be an enjoyable series for fans of the genre. Unfortunately, it may prove to be too odd and edgy for its own good depending on the direction of future episodes.

American Horror Story premieres tonight at 10PM on FX and airs every Wednesday at 10PM.