Monday, October 17, 2011

American Horror Story (Episode 2 "Home Invasion")

Episode 2 of American Horror Story is considerably more cohesive than the pilot, and consequently a more satisfying hour of television. Though I had a certain admiration for its insanity, the pilot more felt like a bunch of weird shit that happened without rhyme or reason than it did a coherent story. Although episode 2 ("Home Invasion") did move some of the myriad subplots from the pilot forward, it had a central story with a clear beginning, middle and end. And it was a fun one, too: the house turns out to be the site of some murders committed by a famous serial killer back in the '60s, and a group of his weirdo followers break in and tie up the mom and the daughter, hoping to reenact the grisly crimes. It's not exactly a masterpiece of suspense, but it's a funny, exciting episode that gives me a little bit more confidence for where this show is heading.

Some overall notes:

- The ADHD editing from the pilot is still here, prevalent enough that it's obviously a (poor) stylistic choice and not just incompetence. Looks like I'm going to have to learn to ignore it if I'm going to enjoy this show.

- Like the pilot, the cold open is a flashback to something terrifying happening in the house years ago. I like this, and I hope the other episodes do the same. It sort of makes the beginning of each episode like a little short horror film unto itself.

- I don't take notes while I watch this, but I'm pretty sure both this and the pilot used bits of various old Bernard Herman scores. And why not? I'm sure some people out there don't like hearing their favorite film scores being re-purposed, but I tend to take the Quentin Taratino view that great music should be reused.

- I still am not finding myself caring much about the characters or the overall story. The family is going through a lot of boring, troubled family cliches. The parents are too morose to like, the daughter too bitchy. The only actor I'm enjoying watching is Jessica Lange, who is having fun going a little bit over the top while still maintaining some level of emotional honesty.

- The best part of the episode was, clearly, the ipecac-filled cupcake and how it pays off. But I'm still unclear as to why Lange's character wanted to give it to the daughter. Is it because she doesn't like the way the daughter treated her family, or did she somehow know that one of the killers would eat it?

Grade: B

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