AMERICAN HORROR STORY: MURDER HOUSE – Review

The first season of Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk’s FX horror anthology series American Horror Story is airing its sixth season right around the corner now. Being a massive fan of the series, I decided to discuss my thoughts on the season that started it all, Murder House.

This season follows the Harmon family – Ben (Dylan McDermott), Vivien (Connie Britton) and Violet (Taissa Farmiga) as they move from their hometown of Boston into a brand new house located in Los Angeles. While they arrive, things seem normal enough for a little bit. But eventually, strange things begin to occur slowly around and inside the house, including a strange man dressed completely in rubber appearing in hallways.

When this first season of American Horror Story premiered, I was understandably, not really allowed to watch it, as at the time I was eleven years old, and this show deals with some extremely serious topics and also contains a whole lot of blood and gore, and also nudity. I never actually got around to watching this season until a few months ago, but now that I finally did watch it, I am so happy about it.

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Evan Peters as Tate Langdon in American Horror Story: Murder House (2011)

This entire season is by far one of the most mysterious American Horror Story seasons to date. What Murphy and Falchuk were able to incorporate in this season which minimal locations was absolutely brilliant. In fact, some of my favorite moments from the entire series come from this season alone.

The first episode of Murder House titled simply “Pilot” shows us the beginnings of the Harmon’s brand new life that they will soon have to live under. We slowly but surely see bizarre things happening around them which perfectly sets up the season to come.

With each episode in Murder House, the stakes grow increasingly higher, as more supernatural happenings begin to occur and the death count rises even higher each time. One of the best episodes of this premiere season is “Halloween (Part 1)”, as we get some truly suspenseful moments, and honestly, some of the most tension filled moments occur in this episode. We cut back and forth from the house while Violet is home alone and scared, while her parents Ben and Vivien are at the hospital. It creates for some truly unnerving moments when extremely creepy things begin to happen at the Harmon household when Violet, a young teenage girl, is the only resident in the house.

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Connie Britton (left) as Vivien Harmon and Dylan McDermott (right) as Ben Harmon in American Horror Story: Murder House (2011)

If I were to pick my overall favorite episode in Murder House, however, it would definitely be the final episode in the season titled “Afterbirth”. As of writing this article, American Horror Story has five seasons, and I have seen every single one of them. I honestly feel as if “Afterbirth” is the most suspenseful and surprising episode in the history of the entire series thus far. Without spoilers, so many wild things occur during the episode and it all feels like the stakes have never been higher. Our characters arcs are completely fulfilled with this closing episode, and so many of our characters have satisfying conclusions – particularly Tate Langdon (Evan Peters) and the aforementioned Violet. The way their two characters arcs wrap up is absolutely amazing. Murder House easily has the best character development within the entire series.

Unfortunately, there are some scenes that simply do not make any sense whatsoever in Murder House. There were a couple of scenes in particular that I will not spoil where characters made some extremely questionable decisions that had me furious as to why they did them. Furthermore, there is a character introduced in the season early on named Moira O’Hara (Alexandra Breckinridge). Her character basically exists just to make father Ben in the mood for romantic scenes. O’Hara appears far too often in the season, and every time she did, it really annoyed me.

This season was, obviously, the season that introduced us to the now iconic American Horror Story theme song and opening title card sequence. The theme music and opening are easily some of the most recognisable pieces of music and opening title cards in television history.

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Taissa Farmiga as Violet Harmon in American Horror Story: Murder House (2011)

Easily the best actor in this debut season of the now long running television program is Farmiga, who acts as Violet, the daughter of Ben and Vivien. Her performance here is so realistic and gritty, that she should have won awards for her portrayal of the teenager. Out of all the Murder House characters, Violet was always the one who I felt the most sympathy for. Violet constantly suffers from an extremely large array of mental health issues throughout the season including depression, suicidal thoughts, and is continuously verbally abused by Tate Langdon. What at first seems like a couple that was made for each other in the beginning of the season soon fizzles into one of the most toxic relationships in television. That is why when Violet starts to fight back against Langdon, it makes for some of the most satisfying moments in American Horror Story history.

The debut season of American Horror Story is filled with creepy moments, a gritty and intriguing story, and a phenomenal performance from Taissa Farmiga. Its faults lie in some of its characters and the decisions they make.

Overall Grade: B+

Certificate: TV-MA

Cast: Connie Britton, Dylan McDermott, Evan Peters, Taissa Farmiga

Episode Count: 12

Network: FX

Series: American Horror Story

Created by: Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk

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