When American Horror Story premiered last fall on FX, it was immediately apparent that this was a different type of show. Going far creepier than most television ever dares to, it’s about the Harmon family, who move into a haunted house in L.A. It is, strangely enough, from the team that brought us Glee and Nip/Tuck, Ryan Murphy and Brad Fulchuk, and we were promised the first season, now released on Blu-ray and DVD, was a stand alone story.
What no one told us ahead of time is that it would be so darn good. For 12 hours, viewers were kept on the edge of their seats as twist after twist played out. We learned about all of the past residents of the house, most of whom died gruesomely and still haunt the building. We learned what the Harmons would do under pressure. We learned that a house can have a life of its own, and that the residents who dwell within are only one small chapter of a larger volume.
The Harmons arrive with problems already brewing. Wife, Vivien (Connie Britton, Friday Night Lights), had recently given birth to a stillborn baby, then learned of husband, Ben’s (Dylan McDermott, The Practice), cheating ways. The mistress, Ben’s student, Hayden (Kate Mara, 127 Hours), actually follows them out from Boston, making sure that the issues they are fleeing from don’t just disappear. Daughter, Violet (Taissa Farmiga), is frustrated with all of the adults, who can’t seem to grow up, and suffering from depression.
But then they meet a host of new characters that bring their own set of challenges for the Harmons. A man in a rubber suit (Vivien wrongly believes that it’s Ben) has sex with Vivien and impregnates her. A burned man named Larry (Denis O’Hare, True Blood) follows Ben around and wants to help him take care of Hayden once and for all. Neighbor Constance (Oscar winner Jessica Lange, Big Fish) knows more than she lets on. And Violet falls in with a possibly homicidal lad named Tate (Evan Peters, Invasion), who has a connection toa strange and violent creature living in the basement.
If that sounds like a lot, it’s just the tip of the iceberg. The large recurring cast of season one includes: a maid who usually appears old (Frances Conroy, Six Feet Under), but looks young and hot (Alexandra Breckenridge, Dirt) to Ben; an abortion doctor (Matt Ross, Big Love) and his wife (Lily Rabe), who so desperately wants a baby; a nosy real estate agent (Christine Estabrook, Mad Men, Desperate Housewives); Constance’s daughter with Downs syndrome (Jamie Brewer); a noble security guard (Morris Chestnut, V); a psychic (Sarah Paulson, Studio 60 On the Sunset Strip); and the gay couple to whom the rubber suit belonged (Teddy Sears, Raising the Bar, and Zachary Quinto, Star Trek, Heroes). This large ensemble means that no haunted house convention goes ignored.
The writing, acting, and production are all top notch in American Horror Story, which led to seventeen Emmy nominations and a host of other accolades. Jessica Lange won an Emmy, Golden Globe, and Screen Actor’s Guild award for her role as Constance. These were completely deserved, as American Horror Story is something truly original, taking the genre to a new level when allowed to live amongst such well developed characters for so many hours.
Blu-ray is definitely the way to go to get the full affect of American Horror Story. Obviously, there are special effects, and you won’t want to miss any elements of those. Also, the masterful score will be much more effective in high definition surround sound. American Horror Story creates such a detailed, engrossing world, with its rich blacks and attention to detail, it is best experienced in the most immersive way possible, which is currently Blu-ray.
This Blu-ray set includes a number of special features. There’s The Murder House guide done by the fictional Eternal Darkness Tours of Hollywood, a making of featurette, a focus on the title sequence, introductions to the various ghosts that live in the house, and audio commentary for the “Pilot” episode. This is plenty to satisfy most fans of the show.
Plus, how many series actually give you a conclusion after a mere twelve episodes? Season two, premiering soon, will be in a new place and time, with many of the actors returning, but in different roles. Season one is a complete tale, from beginning to end, making this three-disc set like a very long, very good movie.
American Horror Story The Complete First Season is available now.