American Horror Story Murder House TV Review


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In which Ben discovers the advantages of owning a gazebo

THE ONE WHERE Ben fears he’s killed a client. He hasn’t, but the burn-faced Larry Harvey does murder his mistress, forcing Ben to bury her in the back garden.

VERDICT What’s surprising about this episode is how many answers it suddenly delivers. We discover why Moira looks different to men and women, why Constance despises her, and why she has that freaky white eye. We learn a great deal about the original owners of the house too. It’s also abundantly clear now that anyone who dies in the house remains connected to it in some way, unable to “pass on”.

You’ve also got to take your hat off to the variety of ingenious excuses provided to explain why the hell the Harmons stay in the house after last week’s home invasion. As the reasons pile up (they can’t afford it; it’s doctor’s orders; Violet threatens to run away if they do) it becomes downright comical.

Indeed, this is a very funny episode, which feels like a strange thing to say, given quite how disturbing much of it is - the episode revolves around two violent murders, a suicide and a suspected miscarriage, for heaven’s sake. That’s a difficult trick to pull off, but writer Jennifer Salt (a 67-year-old former actor whose credits include a role in Midnight Cowboy ) manages it effortlessly. Hayden’s brutal, out-of-the-blue death is shocking, but there’s an air of absurdity about the way it’s done (there’s just something inescapably slapstick about shovelling someone in the face), and to Larry’s breezy approach to corpse disposal. And while Dr Montgomery’s Frankenstein complex is monstrous, I challenge anyone not to chuckle when you clock that he’s sewing wings onto a two-headed pig.

TRIVIA “Jack Colquitt” (the detective investigating Hayden’s disappearance) was also the name of the detective in a novel written by Cigarette Smoking Man in season four X-Files episode "Musings of a Cigarette Smoking Man". That was directed by James Wong, who’s now an executive producer on American Horror Story .

NITPICKS How long is it going to take before Ben or Vivien says, “But Moira’s so young /really old ”? It’s already stretching credulity to breaking point.

SPECULATION Tate is obviously dead too, and I’m betting that he died during the grunge era – the kid’s got a Kurt Cobain vibe to him.

THINGS WE LEARNT FROM THIS EPISODE When buying a house, always google the address and the phrase “murder tour” before putting pen to paper…

SERVER NOT FOUND Speaking of which, I was scandalised to type into my browser and discover that no such website exists. I haven’t been so disappointed since I tried ringing the Doctor’s mobile number after watching “The Stolen Earth” and got “unrecognised number”.

THE MOST HORRIFYING THING IN THE EPISODE Making tea in a microwave ? Good god, Vivien, that’s an abomination!

BEST LINE Violet: “I love our house. It’s got soul. It’s where you and I kicked some ass, mom. You say we were victims of something bad there. I say it’s the place where we survived.”

Read all of our American Horror Story season one reviews .

In the UK, American Horror Story airs on FX every Monday night at 10pm.

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Deputy Editor, SFX

Ian Berriman has been working for SFX – the world's leading sci-fi, fantasy and horror magazine – since March 2002. He also writes for Total Film, Electronic Sound and Retro Pop; other publications he's contributed to include Horrorville, When Saturday Comes and What DVD. A life-long Doctor Who fan, he's also a supporter of Hull City, and live-tweets along to BBC Four's Top Of The Pops repeats from his @TOTPFacts account.