Just started watching American Horror Story as it is on Amazon Prime. I didn't mean to start watching it, just found it for my mohter since she wanted something new to watch and I'm really not a huge fan of horror when it's not in books, but--seriously, I didn't realize it was this good. I wasn't too sure--I mean, ti's an evil house and I get characters aren't supposed to be genre-savvy but it's an evil house.
And yet, this one actually works. Maybe-spoilers through ep three.
The pilot maybe kind of inclined me to think this was going to soon end badly--it was dramatic and frightening and everything seemed way too overt to explain why anyone would stay there voluntarily and in general, TV doubles down instead of knowing when to scale back because it wants to top itself. By the second ep, however, with the crazy serial-killer fetishists and the continuing conflict regarding the husband's infidelity and the wife's pregnancy and the freaky neighbors, they legitimately didn't quite absorb teh house's utter weirdness because they were understandably distracted as fuck from their regular epic life problems or even--and third ep pulled this off with the maid like whoa--think the weirdness is due to their life problems being projected. The second ep with the fetishists was kind of brilliant in giving a really awesome excuse for anything weird that happens that isn't actual dead people still rotting stopping to talk to them; that kind of thing would freak anyone out. Between that and then knowing its history, it makes perfect sense that they'd put things down to imagination or stress, especially because they don't want to stay there anymore and they'd assume they're paranoid, and it makes sense.
I'm actually impressed that the show took the time to assure that the viewer can see how the protagonist's pov is shaped instead of having to assume they're idiots to deal with the mystery of the house. I"m also in love with the neighbor Constance's petty thievery--it's so surreally normal and in character for her, as she comes off as a little crazy anyway--and the her daughter Abbie's weird habit of appearing in the house. The crazy patient Tate was almost a breaking point for me, except the character of Violet--being a teenager, morbid, and bitter without being constantly obnoxiously boring--brings him in as much as the Ben's sturggle to establish his business keeps him as a patient.
I also really like that the house--or whatever--is forcing the events and not necessarily subtly, but really well in a logical sense by using their lives and history against them. They're being trapped there by real life, pretty much, not magic, but these are normal people and real life traps you better than anything. The murder of Hayden--and boy, they went out of their way to make her unsympathetic as hell--was maybe kind of inevitable, and at first I thought it was just to bind Ben to the house more, since blood being spilled seems to be a prerequisite for things going epically wrong, but actually, I'm pretty sure that in this case, it was Hayden being a threat to Vivien's baby with her history of miscarriage that was the primary motivator, though the rest was also a nice side benefit.
The thing with Moira the maid is amazing, and I have no idea what to do with it. I mean, it's obvious--the seductress, which would be boring and so obviously plot-required--but it's also obvious she's very specifically playing a character when she does it and hates it and it's not her, which is literally plot required because it's the house writing the plot. Her actions with Ben and with Vivien and with Constance, using Ben's guilt over his past adultery to protect herself--the fact that Ben is in fact guilty over the adultery and paranoid as hell, it's just in this one thing, he's really not but there is no way to get that across since his wife can't even see Moira as he does...it works. The ending of the third ep was well, horror, yes, but sad, too. Moira was grieving being trapped there, but also for what was happening and her part in it, and Constance's bitterness and remark to Moira that she was trapped forever now was an unspoken acknowledgement like Constance herself was trapped there. I mean, I'm pretty sure Constance isn't dead--I'm not betting on it or anything--but her sentence may not start until she is; she's trapped next door for now, anyway. The first owner of the house returning was also sad mixed with horror; it was painful to see her expression as she went through the house, and the creepy horror of her sitting by Vivien while she slept was combined with the sheer pain she seemed to feel knowing Vivien was pregnant.
I'm hoping the show keeps up the combination of blatant and real life intertwining like this. I like being able to see how the house is manipulating them but doing it with real life in a way that's really hard to see from the inside. Ben is just a shockingly good subject for the house to work with; not just with being a psychiatrist and therefore LOGICAL EMOTIONAL RESPONSE but also his desperation about his marriage, his wife, and her pregnancy. Hayden was too soon, the house must have known that; he wasn't ready to commit murder yet, but covering it up, he was definitely ready for that.
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