American Horror Story Episode 2: “Home Invasion”

The thing about American horror is that there’s a lot of it.

Every vaguely ‘indie’ film of the last 30 years  didn’t lie to you. Sometimes the American dream…wait for it…TURNS INTO A NIGHTMARE.

American Horror Story deals with this conventional TV trope by dragging every last serial killer, monster and murderer (real and imagined) from the last century then shoving them all into the show.

It’s like a Death By Chocolate gateau, and by ‘chocolate’ we mean ‘hideous ghoul’. But what’s good about the over-the-top nature of American Horror Story is that, even though many of the ideas in the show are fairly played out, there’s always some fresh nastiness to catch your attention.

In ‘Home Invasion’, as a sort of horrible cherry on top of the gateau, we’re presented with a virtual re-enactment of one of the murders of Richard Speck; a man slightly less pleasant than your average reality TV show judge. Oh, not to mention all the usual homages to horror films and several characters that might as well wear T-shirts  with ‘MANSON FAMILY STAND-INS’ written across them.

By the way, sorry if you decided to follow the link to Speck’s Wikipedia page above. Yes. I know. The world is a terrible, dark horrible place.

Mr Speck’s crimes form the basis of the series arc, which apparently each week will focus on a different terrible event that occurred in the past of the monstrous murder house our heroes find themselves living in.

The ‘Speck short’ is very disturbing and very upsetting: which, rather than being a criticism is actually a good thing- the show’s meant to be disturbing and upsetting. If you don’t like to be disturbed and upset you’d be better off watching Antiques Roadshow. Or possibly a Youtube video of a sleepy kitten.

Also, it featured The Age of Aquarius song from Hair, so it’s pretty much as good as five minutes of this show could be.

Unfortunately after that we need to go back to the Harmon family and their oh so tedious personalities and problems. Luckily for us, the supporting cast are on hand to provide some actual entertainment.

Denis O’Hare (who I just realized played the fantastically over the top Russell Eddlington on True Blood) returns to give Dylan McDermot’s Ben Harmon another warning, but this time he also squeezes in a fun little monologue about wanting to finally realise his dream of strutting the stage now he’s got terminal cancer, so that’s fine.

Even better is that Dr Harmon is off back to Boston for the episode because he has to help the student he had an affair with have an abortion. Not that that’s a good thing, of course: but it does mean he’s largely off screen for most of the episode, which – in case you were wondering- consists of a home invasion. THE CLUE WAS IN THE EPISODE TITLE.

The killer we saw at the beginning of the episode has fans now and they want to honour him by killing mummy Harmon and daughter Harmon in the same way he killed his victims. They’re like a Manson Family tribute act. They come in, do their thing but get foiled by a poisonous cake.

And some ghosts.

Now in fairness to the show, at the time it didn’t seem quite as dumb as that reads. This is largely down to Jessica’s Lange’s neighbour Constance, the baker of the poisonous cake.

Maybe I’m just a sucker for camp but pretty much any time that malevolent Southern belle is on screen, the show seems worthwhile. Granted, she may have locked her Down’s Syndrome daughter in a cupboard full of mirrors so she could engage in a ‘business meeting’ with a handsome young male prostitute…but hey, at least she’s not dull.

Indeed the most successful parts of the whole episode are those that hint at her sad and bloody history with the murder house.

That mythology seems to be expanding in a pleasing way and the idea that the House is some sort of locus for terrible events- drawing weird and terrible things and people to it like a building version of an X Factor audition-  is one I’m happy to sit through a lot of bad acting for.

I’m looking at you, McDermott.

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American Horror Story is on FX, Mondays, 10pm

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About Ian Dunn
I love avocados, WH Auden and dinosaurs but I don't like effort.

5 Responses to American Horror Story Episode 2: “Home Invasion”

  1. Pingback: American Horror Story Series Blog – Episode 6 – Piggy Piggy « Tellysquawks

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