American Horror Story Ep 1: Pilot
In beginning my re-watch of AHS, I’d forgotten how much happens in the first episode. Ben cry-sturbating, Burn-face Larry, Rubber Suit Man (RSM), Vivien quickly getting pregnant…all were things I thought happened later in the season. But with a series as ambitious as AHS, it makes sense that the pilot episode would throw as much stuff at you as possible to get you interested in the story. I think it goes without saying there will be spoilers, although I’ll try my best not to spoil too far ahead of the episode I’m reviewing.
On to the horror! Of course the most overt horror is the obviously haunted house. Very rarely in horror movies are haunted houses single-family pre-fab homes smack in the middle of the suburbs, just down the street from the local Target and Yogurtland. This house hits all the standard horror landmarks: Victorian, creepy attic, even creepier basement, and abandonment. The previous owners being murdered in the center room is just icing on the haunting cake. It is also confirmed the house is haunted with the appearance of the twins who were killed at the very beginning of the episode.
There are also threads of more subtle, every day horror that are the undercurrent of the episode, of the whole season. Vivien experienced the horror of pregnancy and childbirth to a stillborn son, setting off events that lead to the end of the Harmons as we know them. Ben, who as a psychiatrist should know better, uses Vivien’s trauma and slow recovery as an excuse to cheat, bringing in the horror of infidelity and mistrust to his marriage. Violet, Ben and Vivien’s daughter, isn’t immune either. Her parents’ fucked up relationship causes her to lash out, which is probably the greatest horror of them all–teenage rebellion. This sets her up perfectly to catch the eye of Tate, a disturbed teen with homicidal fantasies. As the ghosts in the house have yet to be proven real to the Harmons, Tate’s Columbine-like desires are the one thing that truly terrifies Ben.
- Violet’s clothing in this episode seem a bit dated to me. She dresses how I wanted to dress in the mid to late 90s, but never had the guts to.
- Ben is the absolute worst psychiatrist and I have no idea how he made all that money back East.
- For someone who is in to all natural things and is wary of strange things being put in her body, Vivien sure did light that sage quickly and without question.