American Horror Story "Smoldering Children" TV REVIEW

What's under the floorboards will floor you...

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What's under the floorboards will floor you...

THE ONE WHERE We discover that Violet’s been dead for weeks!

VERDICT An episode with some mighty powerful shocks: the discovery that Tate is responsible for Larry’s burns; Tate's shocking murder of the pest control guy; the revelation that Constance disposed of her husband's corpse by turning him into Pedigree Chum. But, of course, the discovery that Violet died back in episode six when she took an overdose of pills blows them all out of the water. It’s a brilliant rugpull, and one which this viewer didn’t see coming, although the clues were carefully seeded for those paying attention – the fact that Violet hasn’t been to school for weeks; Vivien’s line about how her daughter’s “not eating anything”... Pat yourself on the back if you pieced it together.

Loved the surreal sequence where Violet tries to run out of the house, but keeps running straight back in, as if space has folded in on itself – it put me in mind of the geographical insanity of one of my favourite horror films, Lucio Fulci’s The Beyond.

FOR ONE HORRIBLE MOMENT… I thought that what we were going to find in the crawlspace was some kind of alien technology that explains the house’s strange qualities. God, that would have been awful.

IT’S WOSSISNAME! If you thought, “I know that face!” when Detective Granger turned up, it’s probably because Charles S Dutton played Dillon, the Bible-bashing leader of the inmates in Alien³.

NITPICKS Firstly, when Violet tries to get away from Tate, I’d have thought she’d be smarter than to start screaming for help before she’s out of the front door. Tsk. Then there’s Larry’s question to his late wife: “Why am I only seeing you now?”. That’s a question I was asking as well, and one I’ve pondered numerous times throughout the series (Why have we seen so little of Constance’s murdered hubby, Hugo, for example?) “You’re ready now” is a pretty unconvincing shrug of an answer.

TRIVIA Michael Lehmann directed 1989 high school classic Heathers . He also helmed Hudson Hawk - but we’re willing to let him off.

Constance (discussing her now-bisected toy boy Travis): “Even dead, even a boy, he's twice the man you are!”
Larry: “Well, he is now …”

Ian Berriman

Read all our American Horror Story season one reviews .

American Horror Story airs in the UK on FX, on Monday nights at 10.00pm.

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.