American Horror Story Review: Gruesome But Grounded

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Things did a lot more than just go bump in the night on "Home Invasion."

Following a premiere that felt like a cluttered mess, one in which Ryan Murphy appeared to be going for confusion over character, the second installment of American Horror Story delivered a compelling narrative, one that gives me hope this series is aiming for more than just loud screams and furrowed brows.

An Intriguing Trio

First, we had Ben returning to Boston under the guise of patient care. It felt like a leap for Vivian to dub him a "good man" after all we witnessed and learned on the premiere, but it's clear Ben is trying to be. He legitimately had no idea how to handle his mistress' pregnancy.

Is the right move to simply come clean? Of course. Is it understandable that someone in his situation - as difficult as that might be to imagine - would not want to revisit his affair, especially in light of this new, damaging information, with his family? Absolutely. Does it make sense why he wouldn't have stayed in a hotel room during his trip? No.

But I'm not gonna push it. I very much welcomed this trip away from the house and into Ben's personality.

Back home, meanwhile, the knock at the door and Vivan's subsequent hesitance to let the bleeding woman inside was far scarier than any ghost attack on the pilot. That really is the eeriest situation, isn't it? Something that could actually take place. I just get disoriented with quick camera cuts and/or when random creatures appear on screen. But I get up and make sure my door is locked when the possibility of a home invasion is raised.

Especially when that home invasion is aimed at replicating a previous murder on my property. That was seriously eerie, yet it was also a delightful development because it tied in the past with the present. It will grow very boring very quickly if each opening is meant to prove that this house is haunted. Such a point has already been made.

But if there's a through-line related to the events, as was emphasized when Tate, Constance and the maid stared down at the body in the basement, talked about Tate remaining Ben's patient and made it clear there's some kind of alliance at work here? Then I'm in. Then there's a serial nature to the story that goes far beyond just how weird the show can be.

And that's all I ask for: character development and interesting storytelling that are enhanced by frightening scenes, not defined by them.

I'd also like to see some changes in Constance. She's too over-the-top and her treatment of her Down's Syndrome daughter isn't a reflection on the character right now, as it's meant to be, but on the show itself. It's just in poor taste and seems like an awfully lazy way of making Constance into a mysterious, shady neighbor.

Still, this was a major improvement over the premiere. It was frightening, but also grounded. What did everyone else think?


Editor Rating: 4.2 / 5.0
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User Rating:

Rating: 4.6 / 5.0 (88 Votes)

Matt Richenthal is the Editor in Chief of TV Fanatic. Follow him on Twitter and on Google+.


can someone tell me for the life of me, who the other girl was in that murder gang? I can't find her on imdb or anywhere else, and she looks soooo familiar. It's bothering me, and that episode gave me nightmares soooo I'm not going to watch it again just to see the credits!


I'm a stephen king reader and I love it!! It's like watching a horror film that doesn't end!


I think Evan Peters as Tate is a mesmerizing scene stealer. I also believe Tate's a ghost, although some possibility exists he isn't. Notice how he backed toward the wall when the crazy invader girl came running in after Violet and he was still clearly visible but she didn't see him. I think he might be the perfect child Constance talked about. In the pilot Tate sees a bloody man standing behind Ben during a session, and he's wearing the same sweater as Tate. Did Tate kill himself or was he murdered? Yet Ben was talking to someone who was Tate's father on the phone so....Clearly Moira's a ghost right? Hmmmm could go anywhere and they owe us no logic am I right? Can we really expect logical explanations for such a fantastical show. I'm hooked like big mouth bass.


I love the show thus far but your right about the timeline because when they moved into the house it was six months later but he could have been avoiding her phone calls as far as thw wife are we even sure its bens child? I mean there was the mysterious guy in the black leather sex suit that was not ben. I think tate is the child constance lost that was what she deemed the pefect child out of all her children that seemed to have been cut from life early i will be interested to see how the series goes. Its definetly a change from the happy go lucky or soap opera dramas out there


What's with ryan murphy and the down syndrome?


A creepy, disturbing show that gets you out of your comfort level to watch. Too bad so far with 2 episodes in, I wasn’t really impressed with the show. It didn’t really do it for me as a show it is trying to achieve. And Nip Tuck fans would see a lot of familiar elements in this show. Quirky humorous characters, uncomfortable images, sexual gratifications, Dylan McDermott giving consultations and strutting around with his bare butt (in a Christian Troy trance). Though it seems to be they try to cram in disturbing aspects to the show, sometimes without fulfilling any objectives to the plot, as in they do it for the heck of it. And I also notice many things in the show that made no sense, but they might come together once the show goes on farther. Though seeing it’s Ryan Murphy, I can’t really cross my fingers on that. So far, I’ll give the show a C+. Maybe Murphy should just focus on Glee.


Honestly, I think they are all ghosts I mean how in the heck are they getting in the house and I have never seen anyone of them outside except the burned guy so.... It's crazy and addictive and I hope Ryan Murphy brings a bit more structure to the story but other than that I am having a great time... this episode was awesome...


This show is Twisted, Alluring and Irresistable...I'm anxiously awaiting the next episode! Love it!!


I enjoyed the 2nd episode much more then the first. I was seriously creeped out by the home invasion story line. For some reason I think Tate is Constance's 4th child. Just a feeling I got. I'm looking forward to next week.


I was debating whether to watch since I was underwhelmed with the pilot, but I'm glad I watched. I felt this had an actual plot and character development. And some true scares and intrigue to keep me watching. My one questions was the pregnant mistress. Perhaps I have the timeline confused, but my impression was that Ben got caught months ago (like six months ago). Now his mistress is pregnant? Was he stilling seeing her afterwards?

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