American Horror Story, Murder House (2011): I Probably Shouldn’t Have Watched It At 3 am In A House That Creaks

Note: No major spoilers ahead, but it may be hard to understand without you having actually watched the show. So go watch it first, then come back. 

I started to watch American Horror Story because it’s summer and a friend had recommended it to me several months ago and it looked interesting. Also it was free on Amazon Prime.

Look at this. It just rings creepy and that really appealed to me (I like horror movies, okay?)

The series starts out with a couple and their teenage daughter moving into a large and strangely cheap house to start fresh and try to pull their family back together again because the marriage is failing and the daughter is shutting them out.

The house is large and eery and really cheap. The realtor tells them that the previous owners were involved in a murder-suicide. Inside the house.

Okay. Kind of cliche, but I was expecting a haunted house, so I let that slide. Besides, what other alternatives are there? The previous owners just got creeped out by the house and moved out? Death is definitely a better hook and much more intriguing.

But as the series goes on, it is slowly revealed just how much death had occurred in the house. There’s a lot of it. One by one, each of the tragedies is explained. I am amazed by the backstories of all these characters, which needed a dark yet wild imagination to create all these stories because each and every one of these backstories were interesting and, more importantly, easily distinguishable so that even with the large number of characters, each of them stayed unique and gripping.

Some of the previous owners of the house include a gay couple struggling with their relationship, Chad and Patrick, portrayed by Zachary Quinto and Teddy Sears, as well as Constance Langdon, wonderfully performed by Jessica Lange, a manipulative and dark mother who had a child with an extreme physical deformation, one with Down’s Syndrome, and also one who was a murderer.

Constance Langdon (Jessica Lange), who is a strange character and I really don’t know how to describe her because she’s just…strange.

Now, with all that being said, American Horror Story is not really a “horror” film (or TV series or whatever), because it’s really not all that scary.

Sure, it’s a haunted house and lots of people have died in various dark and gruesome ways and anyone who dies in the house stays as a ghost/spirit that can’t leave, but other than some really good make-up and effects on the more gruesome characters, there was not much horror.

With that said, I never said that it wasn’t creepy. Especially when it’s three in the morning and my house creaks when the wind blows and I’m the only one in my house that’s still awake. And especially when I watched this on my computer on my bed, meaning that, since the computer is basically on my chest as I lie flat on the bed, the screen is really close to my face.

Other than a couple of cliche jump scares, the creepiness was more from the anticipation of something dark happening rather than what was actually happening. So even if you are like my brother who pretends he really wants to play Infinity Blade to escape watching horror movies, American Horror Story should be okay for you. Just be prepared for some impressive make-up on the dead people.

As a whole, I really, really enjoyed watching American Horror Story. In fact, I’ve already started on the second season. It was a bit cliche, and sometimes the plot could’ve moved faster to explain some of the mystery, but in general, I thought it was awesome.

And it had one of the most intriguing characters I had ever encountered: Tate Langdon, which Evan Peters took and transformed into one of my favorite characters.

Okay, maybe my opinion is a little bit biased because I already really liked Evan Peters from X-Men, but this character just really blew me away.

Tate is a troubled teenager that sees Dr. Harmon for therapy, who happened to fall in love with his psychiatrist’s daughter, Violet, who also happened to be a mass murderer that killed fifteen kids at his high school and many others, who also happened to be dead.

Saying that he is a dark character is a bit of an understatement.

But the thing is, Tate seems very charismatic. He easily befriends Violet and just doesn’t act like a mass murderer.

Look at that smile. No wonder Violet fell for him.

Throughout the series, it is constantly brought up that Tate is a bad person. In fact, he is even described as a monster.

But from what I saw, Tate wasn’t a monster. He seems to genuinely love Violet and wants to protect her and make her happy. Granted, some of his methods of trying to make her happy is a bit twisted, but that doesn’t make him a monster.

However, at the same time, as more is revealed about Tate Langdon, the more his love for Violet seems like only a perversion of love because of his dark actions, particularly regarding his tendency to kill people and the way he tries to make Violet happy, like that time he tried to get her to do a double suicide with him so that they can be together forever.

It is this contrast and uncertainty about Tate that makes him so interesting; and Evan Peters did a truly spectacular job of portraying this complicated character and he definitely made Tate Langdon one of the most enjoyable parts of this show.

Conclusion: With both a wonderful cast and well-written story, American Horror Story not only provides a wonderfully entertaining and creepy story of Murder House, but also managed to write a teenage character who was not a total stereotypical jerk or idiot with Taissa Farmiga, who created a wonderfully unique character that had the easily recognizable “teenager” characteristics and a kind of complexity that really brought Violet Harmon to life. Yes, there are a couple of cliche spots and the plot was a bit hard to get at the beginning, but wonderful acting to everyone, especially Tate Langdon. Bonus points for awesome characterization of Tate and also the attractiveness of Evan Peters. 9/10. 

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