American Horror Story: Review: Season 1 Eps 7-10

FX 16, 23, & 30 November, 7 December

Answers are coming thick and fast on American Horror Story, as this batch of episodes explore the relationship between Larry and Constance, reveal the unsurprising identity of ‘Rubber Man’ and sees the Black Dahlia join the ghost groupies…

‘Open House’ brings mad Larry (Denis O’Hare) to the fore, revealing his relationship with Constance (the always brilliant Jessica Lange) as the cause of the immolation of his wife and children (an aspect revisited in quite graphic terms in the self-explanatory ‘Smoldering Children’). That may have been a surprise (it doesn’t fit with what Larry told Ben—Dylan McDermott—previously) but the fact that the mysterious ‘Rubber Man’ rapist was the ghost of Tate (uncovered in the episode ‘Rubber Man’) was pretty obvious from the get-go (so much so, they got it out of the way in the show’s teaser). The ramifications of a ghost-assisted pregnancy (Vivien is carrying twins, with different fathers) look set to be explored in the show’s final two episodes, ‘Birth’ and ‘After Birth’.

The Hollywood history aspect of this series returned with the welcome arrival of Elizabeth Short in ‘Spooky Little Girl’, otherwise known as the notorious victim of the Black Dahlia case in the 1940s. Mena Suvari is great casting, and her story leads to Constance’s boy-toy Travis (Michael Graziadel) becoming the ‘boy Dahlia’, once more tying Larry’s future in with that of Constance. This episode concludes with a swerve into left-field outrageousness with the revelation about the ‘Pope’s Box’ and the Antichrist: a child born of spirit and human that will cause the Apocalypse. Mental just doesn’t begin to cover it.

Almost as obvious as Tate’s alter-ego was the status of Violet (Taissa Farmiga), seen overdosing on pills a few episodes back. It was clear she was dead, but didn’t know it, a delicious fact the show managed to stretch out across a few more episodes before coming clean in ‘Smoldering Children’.

There’s so much going on in this show it can be hard to keep track if you don’t pay attention (a good thing when so much of television is formulaic and predictable).

Verdict: American Horror Story continues to be full-on Grand Guignol, with operatic excess and Giallo-style horror moments and a million miles away from run-of-the-mill US TV. It has to be said, though: this haunted house is getting awfully crowded with ghosts…

Episode 7 ‘Open House’: 7/10

Episode 8 ‘Rubber Man’: 8/10

Episode 9 ‘Spooky Little Girl’: 9/10

Episode 10: ‘Smoldering Children’: 8/10

Brian J. Robb

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