The Harmons and their daughter Violet move from Boston to L.A. in an attempt to make a fresh start. Ben Harmon (Dylan McDermott) is a psychiatrist who plans to run his practice out of their new home. In Boston, he had had an affair with a young co-ed (Kate Mara) and his wife, Vivien (Connie Britton), is still struggling to forgive him.
The Harmons meet their neighbor, Constance Langdon (Jessica Lange), who pretends to be a gentle Southern woman but in reality is quite brash and rude, and has her own dark past. Constance treats Moira, the former maid of the house, with such contempt that it is evident that they have some history. While Vivian sees Moira as this older woman (Frances Conroy), Ben sees her as a hot young seductress (Alexandra Breckenridge). And this is just the start of the odd happenings in the house. Over time, the Harmons discover that their restored mansion of a home has a dark past and is haunted by the spirits of those who died within the property lines.
As the season progresses, the series jumps between the past and the current time so that we learn the history of the Murder House and its past residents, and see how they met their untimely deaths. With all this jumping in time, you never really know who is dead and who is alive, so there are quite a few shocking revelations throughout the course of the season. Everyone we meet seems to have a dark and sinister past—from the mysterious Larry (Dennis O’Hare), who burned half his face while murdering his own family, to Tate (Evan Peters), Ben’s troubled teenage patient who is interested in Violet. The house is also filled with its own crazy characters, from the mysterious Rubber Man to the creepy Infantata in the basement, a sloth/baby hybrid that slashes its victims to death.
The series is written and created by Brad Falchuk and Ryan Murphy, two of the minds behind “Glee”, but this is a completely different show. This first season of American Horror Story is a roller-coaster ride of emotions, jumping from cover-your-eyes horror to black comedy to horrific acts of violence to just all-out odd or creepy. As the season progresses, you never know what is going to happen next, or how the show is going to make you feel.
This first season is a pretty much self-contained story, that really builds in suspense and craziness as it progresses, culminating in the most insane penultimate episode of the season. And the season finale serves as a coda to wrap up the story and characters and leave us with a perfectly creepy ending.
The cast is really great, but it is Jessica Lange as Constance who really shines. Her performance is just over-the-top, evil and amazing. You just love to hate her character. She is like a more evil, southern Sue Sylvester. The series also has some great guest stars such as Mena Suvari, Zachary Quinto and Charles S. Dutton.
It’s been a long time since we’ve had a really good horror series on TV, and American Horror Story does it really well!
What’s Included on the Blu-ray:
- All 12 episodes of Season 1 (532 min)
- Widescreen 1.78:1
- Audio: English DTS-HD MA 5.1
- English SDH, Spanish, French subtitles
- Audio Commentary on Pilot
Ryan Murphy provides an interesting commentary on the Pilot. He talks about changes that were made and how much the cast and crew knew at the time about the characters and what was ultimately going to happen.
- The Murder House Presented By Eternal Darkness Tours of Holloywood, Inc. (6:35)
Join a tour group as they walk through the Murder House with the tour guide seen in the show. This featurette interweaves clips from the series with the guide’s tour and narration of the house’s past doomed residents.
- Behind the Fright: The Making of American Horror Story (24:38)
Interesting behind the scenes featurette. Interviews with the cast and crew, behind the scenes footage of creating the sets and filming the series. We also get a glimpse into the wardrobe and visual effects.
- Overture To Horror: Creating the Title Sequence (9:12)
The creators talk about how the main title sequence and theme was designed and created to set the tone for the series without giving anything away.
- Out of the Shadows: Meet The House Ghosts (15:10)
The actors who play the various house victims talk about their characters.
The picture quality on this set is perfect—it looks even better than when I originally watched American Horror Story on the FX HD channel. The DTS-HD MA sound is also great, and really adds to the horror and creepiness of the series.
I was happy to see that this set includes the Season Play option, which keeps track of where you are in the season, so you can easily pick up from where you left off. The amount of other extras on this set was a bit disappointing, though those that we do get are great—some of the best behind the scenes interviews I’ve seen. I just wish they had also included a gag reel or some of the deleted scenes that were mentioned in the featurettes.
Overall, American Horror Story Season 1 is a thoroughly entertaining thrill ride, and since it is a self-contained story—the next season will have a new setting & characters—it is definitely worth checking out and marathoning during the Halloween season.