Back in 2011, American Horror Story was getting a ton of Emmy buzz. There was no subtitle attached to the original series, and it was simply American Horror Story. The nominations pegged the show as a miniseries, which intrigued me as the series was twelve episodes long, a number that is rather absurd for the format. As the next couple of years progressed the show became a series that entailed a new standalone story each year with new characters, while the cast largely remained. Now that the latest entry (Apocalypse) goes back to the beginning and combines itself with the third series (Coven), I thought I would give it a shot.

The story centers around a family that moves into an old house that has a history of people dying, by murder and suicide. The family has a few secrets of their own when they come to the house as they are looking at the purchase of this house and city as a new start. Before long we understand that the house is inhabited by ghosts that freely walk the halls, and can choose to be corporeal at their choosing. The ghosts become key players after each of their backgrounds are played out over the course of the season and influence the family’s arc. The arc is fairly original as far as haunted house stories go, yet I did find myself predicting the outcome of most story twists.

After the first few episodes, I believed the show was a mess. The biggest problem for me that continued throughout the show was the close-ups. About seventy percent of the show was shot in close-ups and I was pained by it. In the show’s defense, I believe it was to not give too much of the house away. If the entire show is mainly set in a house it would feel very stale after twelve hours. Another messy point for me was a lot of the weird things they have the ghost do in the early episodes that make no sense until further on in the series. My problem here was I was not enthralled to find out what each of these things meant, whereas David Lynch can do something of his own ilk and I am deeply fascinated to see where it goes. Overall, I’m not sure what the message of the series was, if there was one at all.

From what I can tell it seems as if the target demographic is mostly women, and after seeing the first season I presume it comes to a lot of the soap-opera acting throughout. The main cast does a fine job at portraying their characters, but the flashback scenes involving actors for a bit role are atrocious, and to me, cheap. The scary scenes in this are pretty tame, but that might be to television sensors. I will probably continue watching the further entries in American Horror Story and ultimately hope that the problems I have with Murder House are not extending to the rest.

I love The Twilight Zone, and I think American Horror Story is like an extended episode of that. I would caution people to be wary of jumping into this show because it was a battle for me, in the beginning, to become invested in the story.

Robert Ring

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