I think the show is legitimately trying to be creepy and compelling and disturbing and a horror story in serialized form, as opposed to a thriller in serialized form. That is an ambitious goal and I like it.
American Horror Story, though... it just doesn't pull it off. At least not in the pilot.
See, here's how horror works. You get normal and you twist it. You present the notion that something is off, not what it seems. AHS doesn't do that. It just throws everything it has at us hoping that something will be scary or disturbing. It doesn't really seem to matter what it is, from plot points to characters and imagery. If it's ever scared anyone, they'll do it. Some of it has to work at some point, right?
And it's a shame, because any one of the concepts in the show could have carried a horror story. The maid that looks different to different people? Yeah, ok, that's pretty cool. Let's do that. But nope, we have to go do the deformed guy. Ok, so let's do that, then. But wait, no, there's the creepy neighbours. But wait, wait, here's a couple of ghosts, too. Oh, hey, wait, how about some body horror. Psycho teenagers? No? Come on!
Ultimately, this scare-ADD thing the show has going on makes it boring and exhausting but not really scary. At some point the family at the centre of it all stops being a conduit for us to immerse ourselves in the horror and it becomes another puppet in the theatre of the absurd mess the show is running.
Now, normally, this would be fixable. Normally, the show could calm the heck down and let its concepts breathe once it moves past pilot mode. But here... how do you actually do that when you've already introduced a decade's worth of Halloween Simpson specials? Do you phase some stuff out and bring it back again later? Do you pretend it didn't happen? Probably not.
So, at the end of this thing I was left not awaiting another episode, but an aspirin and some soothing music. It's a shame, too. The way to do this right is actually in there, somewhere. It's just buried under a ton of other ways to do this right. Oh, well, maybe next time.