American Horror Story Series Blog – Episode 4 – Halloween (part 1)

"Oh my God, that's terrifying!" "What?!" "You paired orange curtains with taupe carpets!"

This week’s episode of American story, the first of a two-parter, was all about the spookiest of holidays.

No, not Ghost Christmas. We’re talking HALLOWEEEEEEEN!

In case any of the viewers don’t know what Halloween is, we’re repeatedly told that this is the time when the dead walk the Earth. As the Harmon family happen to live in a bonkers haunted Murder House, this means this episode features ghouls a go-go.

Tying this ghostfest together is an underlying story about the house’s previous tenants: Zachary Quinto and his strapping lover. The intro shows us their bitter destructive relationship, not to mention their murder at the hands of a ghostly gimp.

They then reappear as ghosts. But not just ordinary, common or garden spooks-in-a-sheet. No, they’re Ghosts 2.0,  disguised as interior decorators who are helping the Harmon’s jazz up the house in a desperate attempt to find someone to buy it so they can leave.

It’s like the Exorcist meets Changing Rooms.

Like most of the ghosts that show up this week (and in the series as a whole), their spooky motivations outside of vague malevolence are pretty vague.

However, they’re pretty good fun and do a much better job of portraying a dysfunctional relationship than the Harmons. Also, there’s a aggressive use of the phrase ‘Power bottom’ which I rather enjoyed.

Like almost all the other supporting characters, the new ghosts seem bound to the Murder House in a way they seem reluctant to explain. There’s one rather creepy scene where spooky, old/young maid Frances Conroy goes to see her mother in the worst nursing home in the world.

Just an idea, but if your nursing home reminds you of a twisted dreamscape by H.R. Giger it’s probably best avoided.

Frances Conroy is her usual classy self even as she disconnects her dying mother’s feeding tube and weeps about how she herself can’t die yet, however the ‘Best Actress’ award for this episode goes to Jessica Lange a.k.a. Constance the  Neighbour, as it probably should do for every episode of the show.

This week, her storyline was focused on her Down Syndrome daughter Adie who finally seems like a person rather than an incidental character who shows up at random intervals in a vaguely spooky way.

I’m increasingly of the opinion that Jessica Lange is bringing something amazing to the part of Constance.

On the page, the character is so bitchily camp and monstrous that she should be entirely ridiculous. Yet Lange brings a sense that she’s desperately fighting to hang onto a shred of humanity despite the awful things she’s done.

Her relationship with her daughter is in equal parts weird, troubling and abusive: yet somehow also coloured with an odd, awful sort of compassion.

Certainly at the end of this episode when Adie is hit by a car and apparently killed, Lange really goes for it: howling and weeping and dragging her daughter across the road in a way that should be ridiculous…but somehow isn’t.

Given the flimsy nature of the rest of the characters (and plots) I have no confidence that Constance’s backstory will have anything like the depth of Lange’s portrayal, but for now she’s doing fine work and adding much needed credibility to the series as a whole.

Aarghaarghohmygod! Moment of the week

As well as a strong performance from Constance, we were also treated to a genuinely creepy scene when daughter Harmon backs away from the locked front door (which burnt faced man is trying to smash down), unaware of the hulking ghost gimp lurking behind her.

Other stuff

1) Mum Harmon and Dad Harmon had more martial difficulties. She figured out he’d lied to her about visiting his student mistress, then she had pregnancy trouble and then the ghost of dad Harmon’s mistress showed up.

None of it was interesting.

2) We saw more of Drunken Doctor who built the house and his angry wife. Apparently their child was kidnapped and murdered and he tried to put the baby back together Frankenstein style.

It was quite fun.

3) A whole bunch of stuff, seriously the amount going on in this show is ridiculous. I can’t believe there’s only four episodes.

I don’t think I’ve ever seen a show with so much going on and so little depth.

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American Horror Story is on FX, Mondays at 10pm

You can follow Ian Dunn on Twitter here

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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 Series Blog – Episode 4 – Halloween (part 1)

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