Wednesday, October 26, 2011

American Horror Story: "Murder House"


I almost didn’t write this.

Last week, I forgot to DVR the show, and it didn’t air again until last night. So really, I had an excuse and everything to simply let this fade into the ether and never mention American Horror Story again.

But I’m a glutton for punishment.

So here you go. And now I have another week to convince myself to drop this stupid show from my memory. Maybe I’ll get hit by a car. I can hope.

Goofy font informs us it’s 1983…

Sexy maid is making a bed in what presumably is the Horror House. A man watches her and makes his move. Also suggests this isn’t the first time it’s happened. The maid fights him off, but this is back before the “No means No!” campaign so he just gets attackier. While this is going on, a woman is heading up the stairs with a gun. It’s Lange – and she shoots the maid right in the eye, right before shooting her husband. Well, this is a fine how do you do part of some back story we’ve got going here!

“Clever” editing takes us back (forward? I don’t care enough) to the present day… where Ben and Vivian are fighting. At first, I assume we’re to assume they’re arguing about his recent Boston trip, but no! Apparently, this family is in the 99%! She wants to move, but due to some unfortunate investments that Ben hasn’t been forthcoming about, they really can’t afford it. I love how one of Ben’s main arguments about not moving is because he has an office in the house. The same house where his wife and daughter were almost raped and murdered in. But you know, his patients meet him there!

She ends the conversation with the “Don’t lie to me again or we’re through,” which yeah…

Creepy credits!

Vivian meets with the realtor and lays down the law with her. I’m not up on my California real estate codes, so I’m not sure who’s right in this confrontation, but I have to imagine the realtor at least wants the opportunity to sell the house and get a commission, no? Instead, she tries to get out of the whole thing, before Vivian finally threatens to sue her.

Back in the kitchen, Ben and sexy maid are trading glances.

Then 6 Feet Under maid finds Lange (I guess in the haunted house, it’s never made clear (Ever, actually. These sets all look the same) stealing silver. They too start a cat fight, filling in a few more details about their history. And what a history it is!

Ben has a new patient. She’s depressed about going through a divorce. It’s quite a sob storyA boring sob story. Ben is struggling to listen, as much as I’m struggling to watch this show.

Then he (and we) suddenly finds himself outside in the yard with blood on his hands. He comes back inside and sees sexy maid…from behind (yes I meant that as a double entendre). She’s cleaning up what she says is blood in the hallway. It leads to more sexy time until Ben has had enough and fires her.

This of course then sets up the most ridiculous confrontation between the (three?) (four?) of them: Ben and Vivian, along with each representation of the maid they see. Ben pleads his case, but obviously Vivian doesn’t buy it. The maid (6 Feet Under) pleads her case, and then gets a bit huffy about it all, threatens a lawsuit if they fire her and storms off.

Knowing the power of the threat of a lawsuit, Vivian suggests they keep her, and tells Ben he’s screwed up. Which he is of course, just like every other character in this stupid show.

And now just like that, we’re outside, where Vivian is doing a little gardening as the murder tour pulls up.

Violet is outside as well, sneaking a smoke when Ben catches her. But he’s in cool dad mode, and isn’t mad! He offers to find someone to talk to her about what happened. He leaves, and Tate comes out of the bushes to talk about how great of a dad Ben is. Not like a ghost or anything. And I seriously have no idea why this scene was even included. It doesn’t do much of anything, except take a weak stab at making Ben a character with some positive traits. Unfortunately, it takes more than this to make him even slightly sympathetic. So we’re left with nothing. As usual.

Ben, fresh off his “Dad of the Year” audition, goes in to confront sexy maid about his now missing tape recorder he had during his recent patient session. She seductively tells him she has not idea where it is, and also his next patient is in. Ben is all like, next patient? I don’t have anyone else scheduled? Oh but you do Ben, you do…it’s his mistress. So let’s play why is she now in California.

A. She didn’t have the abortion

B. She decided to move out to California to be closer to Ben

C. She wants Ben to pay for the move and her living conditions so he can be a part of the child’s life.

D. All of the above.

Thankfully, this awesome plot contrivance is interrupted by a detective. Not a homicide detective however – a missing persons detective (huh?) who is looking for the now officially missing patient Ben treated. After making some wide generalizations about a whole bunch of stuff, he ogles sexy maid when she walks in and then leaves.

And now we get to the part of the show where we seemingly jump around from place to place with no rhyme or reason!

Cut to: some weird possible flashback of a guy murdering another guy in an alley, over misconceived homosexuality. I almost break into a nervous sweat thinking that this is a new plot point to cover when thankfully it’s revealed it’s just stop on the murder tour, which Vivian is on. I guess she’s trying to find out more information about her house and the ghosts fuck around too much with Google in her house.

And now we get some more history on the house. A surgeon to the stars built the house in the 20’s, but like all successful doctors got into a Frankenstein fetish. So much so that he would often be late to dinner working on his “bat-pig” experiments. His bitchy wife (shout out to Philly!) constantly nags him about everything. So while he wants to go back down to the basement and make his pig bat, his wife, ever the entrepreneur, wants to continue their lavish lifestyle.

And what better way than by opening an illegal abortion clinic in their basement?

Vivian, listening to the story, and really realizing she doesn’t want to live in an old abortion clinic, suddenly realizes she is bleeding from her, uh…baby canal, so she rushes into the house.

So now we’re in the doctor’s office with Ben and Vivian. Vivian checks out, everything is normal, and the blood is attributed to “spotting.” And I thank God/evolutionary randomness that I never have to deal with “spotting.” Of course then the doctor also demands they plan on moving for the next nine or so months, due to the stress a move puts on people…people like Ben who suddenly faints.

Cut to: Lange is out walking her Dachshunds, and waves at Tate who is standing in a window of the horror house. The realtor, putting up the “For Sale” sign looks to see who she’s waving at and of course sees no one there. Instead of this scene, I just wish Tate would wear a shirt that said, “Yes, I’m a ghost.” It would be subtler.

Cut to: Ben power walking and who does he run into but into half-melted face guy! They talk. Well, HMFG talks and Ben yells and threatens. Then he gets mad and power walks off in a huff.

He comes home and tears up his office in an attempt to find his voice recorder, before blacking out and waking up in the yard again. Feeling as though he might have had something to do with his patient’s current missing status, he grabs a nearby shovel and starts digging up some recently dug up dirt in his yard. Lange pops over to chat about this and that and not digging up the yard. But Ben is determined. 6 Feet Under maid glumly stares out the window.

Cut to: Vivian answering the door again this time to the original owner’s wife, though wearing modern fashions. Vivian “Fool me once shame on you…”) still really wants to sell the house, and lets crazypants in anyway. Crazypants because she loves the old parts of the house, but hates the new, modern pieces of the house – like a pasta hook, or something. Something that would scare me. As they’re talking the camera spins around to the back of the woman’s head where we see a huge gash. Vivian turns to get the tea she’s making and when she turns back the woman is gone! So it seems Doc Bat-Pig Inventor got bored enough with having to split abortion profits with her and does her in at some point. We’ll either learn about it next episode or it will never come up again.

Ben is still digging in the yard and the missing persons detective comes back. His patient has been found in some hospital somewhere, with the voice recorder. So Ben didn’t killer her! Though he may have wished he did after we get to hear what’s on the recorder. The patient got so annoyed that Ben was barely listening to her that she slashed her wrists in his office. Ben grabbed her bloody wrists to stop her, and then proceeded to let he walk out with his voice recorder. Makes enough sense for me to just ignore it.

Cut to: Vivian and Violet checking out a new apartment, because Vivian is not about to let her stupid doctor tell her what she can and can’t do. Unfortunately, she might not have the same strategy with her daughter. Violet goes off on her pregnant, recently tortured mother about not moving, ending with the ultimatum that she will run away if they move. And adds the ol’ “yeah and there’s no way you’ll ever be able to find me because I’m a master ninja and CIA operative that is an expert in getting off the grid.” Or something like that.

Cut to: Ben is on the phone getting his blood work back from when he fainted. He had some weird drug in his system that causes memory loss, that I guess explain his black outs. But before he can really confront sexy maid about it, Hayden, his REAL sexy mistress from Boston, is at the door, screaming about him standing her up. Also in the screaming is her yelling that she is going to tell his wife all about the baby and whatnot. Ben calms her down, and suggests they go somewhere to speak rationally, and that someplace can’t be his house. She agrees, and walks out of the house and into a swinging shovel from HMFG. Ben, just about completely off his rocker at this point, oscillates between going to the authorities and letting HMFG handle his situation his way; burying the body and keeping a secret.

Ben goes inside to think about it and vomit while HMFG buries the body in the hole Ben already started earlier. How fortuitous! Digging a bit, he finds what we presume is the body of sexy maid, at the same time 6 Feet Under maid wistfully looks on from a window above. Lange shows up behind 6 Feet Under, and says, “Now you’ll never get to leave.” Ben, deciding to take the sneaky approach with his dead mistress promptly builds a gazebo over the gravesite. And when I say “promptly, I mean it. Seriously, the guy has a future in carpentry. And after all, who wouldn’t want to sit and sip tea on the site of their buried mistress?

And finally, we cut to Vivian sleeping and abortion doctor/Bat Pig creator’s wife watching her sleep. Because, why not?


So there you go. It hardly seems possible, but each episode finds a lower point. The AV Club is suggesting it’s one of those things that’s so bad it’s good, but I’d argue against that. Usually, guilty pleasures and other things that work on the level of “so bad it’s good” start with a serious endeavor. And I refuse to believe this show is taking seriously by anyone. The clincher had to be the somber pop song playing over the scene where HMFG is burying Ben’s chippy Boston mistress.

So, at least on some level, the show wants to be taken seriously in some parts. As most horror type projects have to do. But it also wants to remain campy in some areas, and those two things are not good playground buddies. Shaun of the Dead pulled it off, but when you think about it, it started with the comedy and as it went on ratcheted up the horror until the comedy pretty much went away.

No, American Horror Story wants to be everything to everyone, and that’s pretty much impossible. I can only hope the American public will wise up about that soon.


Anonymous said...

I just am so addicted to this show! Love the creepy mess of it all. The Halloween episode was awesome, but I wish they’d done part 1 and 2 last night instead of splitting them up. I can’t even imagine being a DirecTV customer right now knowing I might lose FX because of the negotiation with FOX. As a DISH customer/employee I’m just glad I don’t have to worry about losing three of my favorite show…if I was a DirecTV customer I’d switch to DISH right away…why risk missing even a single show?

maids in salt lake said...

I do like the movie too! It was so creepy.