American Horror Story

Season 1 Episode 3

Murder House

Aired Tuesday 10:00 PM Oct 19, 2011 on FX

Episode Fan Reviews (4)

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out of 10
270 votes
  • Love it or hate it, this show is addictive.


    I think by now it's been established that this is a polarizing show that you'll either love or entirely despise. Online commentary seems to fall into one of two extremes, some considering it wonderfully intense and intriguing, others thinking it's one of the stupidest shows on television. Of course, it is pretty stupid. The writers are creating such a batsh*t little universe that it's hard not to laugh most of the time, the first residents of the house being this week's nuttiest creation. There's the disturbed Matt Ross character sewing up bats and fetal pigs in the basement, and his equally nutty wife roaming the halls in the modern day, shrieking at the sight of a kitchen appliance. Everything is being played so broadly that most of the laughs appear to be unintentional, but there's a method to this level of madness, and I think American Horror Story is carving out its own little niche successfully.

    After last week's questionable behavior, I actually felt a little bad for Ben this episode. The show is really piling it on him, first with his psychotic ex-girlfriend, then the revelations about his attraction to the elderly Harmon housemaid (Connie Britton's reaction shots in that scene were hilarious), and finally his drugged-out hallucinations during a patient's suicidal episode. Of course, none of this can disguise the fact that Ben is a horrible, horrible individual. While he's sure having a bad day, he's still the guy who plots to incite an abortion for his crazed lover, and then buries her in the backyard when Denis O'Hare hits her over the head with a shovel.

    I don't know what's funnier. Watching the actual show, or putting the events of each episode into text. Something about it just reads terribly. Heh.

    Like always, the strongest moments occurred whenever Jessica Lange appeared on-screen. We discover that she and Moira have somehow been stuck in the house since 1983, when Constance shot Moira dead along with her cheating husband. I liked all their scenes together, and Moira's sadness at the end was pretty affecting. Would the discovery of her body somehow have released her from the house?

    American Horror Story is still so preposterous and zany, but it's also hugely entertaining at this point. Maybe I like it so much because I'm naturally a fan of trashy soapiness? Scenery chewing just works for me in general. A-


    Read more at Unwelcome Commentary.

  • Murder House


    Murder House was a perfect episode of American Horror Story and I really enjoyed watching this episode which only continued with the dark and twisted as well as drama and intrigue. There was also some dark humor and sadistic irony. It was cool and funny to see the tour bus stopping at the house. This episode is a great indicator of the abilities of everyone involved in this project and I must say that I haven't been as impressed with this genre since the Walking Dead first premiered. I like the characters and they mystery surrounding everyone and everything is engaging and captivating. I am left wanting more and I can't wait for the next episode!!!!!!!!!

  • Ben 3rd Strike, smart writing, feminist spirit, promising Frankenstein, enchainting Moiras, sane format, pretty faces but mediocre make-up, When Hayden Met Larry… (Spoiler free)


    To pinch ! Panch ? Punch !? As long as I can conjugate this review should write itself just fine. The moment Ben's therapy session began I had two options. The first was that I was losing my mind and needed to take an ice cold shower. The other was that Murder House could actually reveal that the pilot and Home Invasion were just the tip of an iceberg actually melting boiling lava. This third installment should convince any drug addict that the best trip is 100% clean and artistic ! After watching the second episode I still had a slight doubt about the show potential and its format but not anymore. The season is going to wow our highest expectations !

    Ben's journey in Gardenland was really confusing and sadly I'm not literate enough to associate it with the many references that populate the series apparently. What I enjoyed the most was the writing. They definitely don't underestimate our intelligence and the characters couldn't be more realistic, if life was an asylum. This is not Scream, there's no doubt about it ! The decisions they make are the right ones and if they change their mind it's really for a good reason, like material or health constraints for instance. The contrast between the way Vivien and Violet dealt with the invasion was specially thoughtful because the second proved she's no screaming brunette. As for the mother I'm not sure if she's ready to share a cup of tea with the basement's devil but this time she proved her strength by handling situations like a true modern housewife warrior ! From the realtor to her husband she won't let anyone strand in her way. You go, mummy !

    But now it's hard to separate the Harmons from their house because it seems the last has found the perfect odd inhabitants. That's why learning more about its past was enlightening but also quite exciting because visiting a spooky house is a child's dream. Moreover the scene where Vivien cuts yellow roses was cleverly staged as she wasn't the only left speechless by what she saw in the street, the whole audience was. Don't you have a Murder House in your neighbourhood ? As for the Frankenstein arc it's promising but I think its development in the present was far too anecdotic. At least it allowed us to take a closer look at the house's wonderful decoration, from the stained glasses to the vintage chandeliers. Like Violet said, the house has a unique identity.

    Otherwise even if all these parts were fantastic my favorite was by far the one involving the Moiras. Alex Breckenridge incarnated the ultimate French maid fantasy in the pilot but it was only her first lesson. The second one ? How to welcome your employee while cleaning a wooden floor with a moisty sponge. More seriously it makes things even more ambivalent when other people see her, beside Vivien and Ben. As for Frances Conroy waiting two episodes for her to finally unleash her tremendous talent really paid off because her scenes with Constance and the couple were shattering. In fact the episode was heavy on character development in general and pivotal for Moira. It also revealed a whole new side of her personality and I wonder how her employees will handle her from now on. Things are relatively complex considering her young self drives Ben crazy when Vivien needs her as no one else would probably want to take care of their home. In the end she's a dual persona hard to resist as the emotions she makes us feel couldn't be more extreme. From attraction to disturbing empathy my opinion about them couldn't be more conflicted.

    To sum things up this third session with American Horror Story was as excellent as the pilot but traded its scary bestiary for a nutsy circus. It's specially true considering pretty crazy Hayden made an unexpected comeback. As Kate Mara's performance is both frightening and moving I can't wait for her next appearance ! Again it proves that the show has found the right balance between developing its main story, the Harmons lived happily ever after, and warming things up with some episodic wicked stuff. My only complain would be Larry Harvey because the actor's make-up has a terrible plastic aspect. It's specially disappointing considering Denis O'Hare's acting has been convincing so far. An explanation would be that The Walking Dead airs on Sunday, so three days before the show, and as it features the best horrific visual effects on TV it's nearly impossible not to compare his burns to the rotten walkers. In my opnion his character designer should have just gone wild and injected him some of Freddy Krueger's DNA !

    Note : This review was first posted on Kritikenstein, my weblog.

  • Murder House

    I'd say this title was a bit clich, but after all, this show loves going overboard with their batshit insane writing. I don't mind, as it's all performed very well with actors that bring their a-game episode after episode. I still haven't made up my mind whether this is a show for me or not. Every episode seems to both explain and confuse, providing some sort of backstory to what's going on, all the while creating new intriguing and intense storylines. I'm wondering how long they can keep this up.

    I try not to go into detail about what goes on in the episodes, as there's not much point to this. This episode piles even more on the "poor" Ben, putting him in both tragic and funny positions. A mad ex-girlfriend shows up, the old maid of the house continues chasing his tail, and he gets into trouble with one of his patients. It's hard not to feel bad for him, but he does remind you that he's the same self-centered man he's always been.