'American Horror Story' review: Delivers on the scares, plot remains to be seen
The show is based around the Harmon family. Mother Vivien ( Connie Britton) is working through a traumatic miscarriage she had to deliver to term, while father Ben ( Dylan McDermott) is trying to put his family back together after Vivien caught him sleeping with a student. He moves them plus their teenage daughter Violet ( Taissa Farmiga, much-younger sister to actress Vera Farmiga) across the country from Boston to an old Victorian mansion in Los Angeles.
Why is their new mansion so cheap? Because it was the site of a grisly murder-suicide and is supremely haunted.
Not only is it haunted by ghosts, but weird neighbor Constance (played to the hilt by Jessica Lange) keeps dropping by unannounced with her daughter Adelaide ( Jamie Brewer). Constance moved to Los Angeles to be an actress long ago, but got pregnant and got stuck raising her "mongoloid" daughter with Down Syndrome instead.
Add to that a maid who appears as older Frances Conroy to everyone but Ben -- he sees the maid as young, sexy Alexandra Breckenridge, complete with French maid outfit and thigh-high stockings - and a creepy burned man ( Denis O'Hare) who follows Ben around.
Finally, Ben's first patient in L.A. is troubled teen Tate ( Evan Peters), who has fantasies about shooting up his school. And strikes up a friendship with Violet.
It's a lot of information and a lot of scares crammed into one hour. Having watched one episode past the premiere, one is left wondering why in the world this family would stay in this house -- it's the classic "running up the stairs when she should be running out the front door, it's insulting." If that sort of thing bothers you, creators Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk (both of "Glee" and "Nip/Tuck" fame) have said it will be plausibly explained why the family stays in the house.
But fans of horror tend to overlook those kinds of silly questions because that's not the point. The point is to be scared. And this "The-Shining"-by-David-Lynch show definitely delivers on that front.
"American Horror Story" premieres at 10 p.m. ET Wednesday on FX.