American Horror Story Series Blog: Episode Three – “Murder House”

This week’s American Horror Story was primarily concerned with explaining why the Harmon family don’t simply up and move out of the murderous house they’re clearly going to die in.

Obviously this is quite a big problem for the show as it breaks the  suspension of disbelief if the viewer is shouting ‘JUST MOVE OUT OF THE DAMN HOUSE ALREADY’ at the screen every five minutes.

As AHS is not a show to give us one good reason when a dozen stupid ones will do, we’re variously  informed that the Harmons can’t move because:

a) all their money is tied up in the house,

b) They can’t sell the house because of the economy (damn you, credit crunch),

c) Moving would be too stressful for Mum Harmon’s unborn child (um, more stressful than repeated supernatural murder attempts? Also, as it seems to be a child of a ghost rape who knows how it reacts to stress. Maybe it likes it),

d) Incredibly annoying Daughter Harmon thinks the house has a ‘soul’,

e) Because burnt face man and Dad Harmon killed Dad Harmon’s pregnant mistress with a shovel and buried her in the back yard, so they probably don’t want anyone poking around.

I’d just like to take a minute to point out that 127 Hours star Kate Mara was handed a really raw deal when she signed up to play Dad Harmon’s youthful mistress. Never mind that she’s supposed to be a student whose professor got her pregnant and abandoned her: the shows paints her as so whiny, needy and annoying that we’re not meant to feel that bad when she ends up buried in the backyard.

No doubt Dad Harmon will end up paying some horrible price by the season’s end but the absolutely lack of empathy the show had for what surely have been a vaguely sympathetic character is more than a little off-putting.

But it’s not nearly as off-putting as the visceral hostility to the whole idea of pregnancy that was seems to be one of the shows central themes.

In addition to the sad end to Kate Mara’s character Hayden, we also had a flashback to the builder of the murder house: an alcoholic surgeon from the 1900’s whose furious wife forced him into doing drunken abortions to make ends meet. With Hilarious consequences!

Last week, all round bampot (editor’s note: this means ‘mentalbonkersperson’ in Scottish) and faded Southern Belle Constance The Next Door Neighbour was permitted a lengthy monologue about her ‘cursed’ womb. Oh, and this week Mum Harmon appeared to have a rather bloody miscarriage all over her nice white trousers.

The friendly doctor reassured her it was just ‘spotting’, but it sure was messy.

Now you don’t have to have seen Carrie or the Alien films to know the male fear of female bodies, blood and pregnancy is a long standing staple of the horror genre but this show (with its customary subtlety) seems to throwing said baby, the bathwater and the bath out of the window to ram it home.

I’d hate to try and guess where this show is going- mainly because at the moment it’s going nowhere, lazily circling between familiar horror themes like a kitten on a Roomba–  but if the season ends with a horror pastiche of the Emma Thompson classic Junior where a hideous goblin child bursts out of Dylan McDermot’s swollen abdomen and devours him, I for one will not be surprised.

Though the bulk of this episode was taken up with explaining why the Harmon family can’t possibly leave the murder house (even though that’s the only thing a sane person would do) rather more intriguingly a couple of the supporting characters hinted they may be unable to leave it, namely malevolent neighbour Constance and the Harmon’s maid, played by both Six Feet Under’s Frances Conroy AND Alexandria Breckinbridge.

What’s that you say? “How can a single maid be played by two characters, you bampot?”

Well, that’s because when men look at her they see a young red haired vixen, but when women look at her they see an older lady, namely Frances Conroy.

By the standards of the show, it’s a device that’s handed relatively well, though one suspects it’s really just an excuse to show a lot of lingering shots of a very pretty young woman in a maid’s outfit. Makes a change from burnt face man, I suppose.

Other Rather Unpleasant Things We Learned This Week

In a flashback to 1983, that Feisty old Constance walked in on her husband raping a young maid so she shot both of them. And the maid got it right in the eye. But she’s still here.

Leaving aside the whys and wherefores of this, it did allow us a rather nice scene between Frances ‘Maid’ Conroy and Jessica ‘Constance/bampot’ Lange where they absolutely radiated hatred at each other.

If the show just primarily focused on those two it might well be something pretty amazing, as it is they’re just the cherry on top of an increasingly ridiculous cake.


American Horror Story is on FX, Mondays, 10pm.

You can follow Ian Dunn on Twitter here


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

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