How deep into Ryan Murphy’s ass must F/X be to air this cocked-up, senseless, shitty wet-dream nightmare of camp and stomach-pit revulsion? “American Horror Show” is beyond the pale, over the brick wall, and swimming in hallucinogenic condom spunk. It’s Faye Dunaway in Mommie Dearest ratcheted it up to 13; it’s Nic Cage in Wicker Man yelling, “Not the bees! Not the bees!” for 45 minutes; it’s every horror-movie convention known to man crammed into Ryan Murphy’s gut and puked back on to the television screen and combined with ass shots, masturbation sequences, and a gimp. A fucking gimp, people. “American Horror Show” is a desperate television; it wants to be sick and perverse and blow-your-socks-off creepy, but ultimately, it’s laughably inane, absurdly dumb, maddeningly overwrought, and plain fucking silly.
And there are 12 more episodes?
Essentially, “American Horror Story” is The Amityville Horror crossed with a made-for-television wannabe David Lynch movie. Connie Britton (R.I.P. Tami Taylor) stars as Vivien, a woman who recently gave birth to a stillborn son and, soon thereafter, walks in on her husband (Dylan McDermott) fucking one of his students. Vivien and McDerp pack up and travel cross country with their teenage daughter, Violet (Taissa Farmiga), and move into a Gothic Victorian mansion with a history (are there any other kind?) to start anew. That history includes a murder-suicide by a gay couple; a man (David O’Hare) who torched his family; a woman with Down’s Syndrome standing guard, reminding everyone who enters that that they will die; Constance (Jessica Lange) the mother of the woman with Down’s Syndrome, a kleptomaniac neighbor with a mysterious, murderous history with the house; and The Shining style redhead twins killed in the house in 1978. Helter Sketer. Red Rum. Jump up my ass.
Things begin to go awry immediately, starting with the ghostly housekeeper, who looks like Francis Conroy to most people except McDerp, who sees a young, sexy redhead (Alexandra Breckenridge) who likes to masturbate, which McDerp takes as his cue to masturbate until he cries while staring out an open window at a burn victim spying him from the clothesline. Violet also has issues at school with hateful classmates, but nothing stubbing a cigarette out on them can’t solve. There’s also a patient of McDerp, a sociopath teenage boy who may or may not exist, but clearly has a connection with the house. He wears a shirt that says, “Normal people scare me,” turns into a frightening clown with razor teeth when the strobe lights come on, and wears a grin straight out of Funny Games.
There’s a lot going on in “American Horror Story,” but none of it makes any goddamn sense. It’s half-formed ideas and horror-movie imagery combined with basic-cable porn, all of which rides off the rails about 15 minutes into the pilot. It’s basically late-season “Nip/Tuck” with a gimp and a lot of loud piano crashes. By the end of the hour, the shock and camp reaches beyond the point of tedium, and the only thing you’re left wondering is how long before the cast of Rocky Horror makes an appearance and breaks out into song while Connie Britton (R.I.P. Tami Taylor) fucks the gimp again. I give it four episodes. I won’t be around to see it.