The first chapter of the AHS spinoff anthology series, American Horror Stories, is split into two parts, where a family moves into the well-known Los Angeles murder house. First-time house-flippers Troy (Gavin Creel), and his husband Michael (Matt Bomer, slumming it after a strong turn in The Sinner, season 3), arrive in LA with their moody teenage daughter Scarlett (Sierra McCormick). Unfortunately, she seems to be the only one reading the glaring headlines about the house. The dads dismiss Scarlett as they believe in science over ghosts, and okay, that’s a great argument considering they’re flipping the notorious home. Good luck selling it, buddies!
Scarlett quickly finds the old latex S&M suit that previous house guests have worn, puts it on without any baby powder, and scares her dads as she enters their room wielding a knife. When they ask why she donned the suit, Scarlett responds that she thought it was their sex suit in the closet. Well, darling girl, either you scrubbed that suit with bleach and lavender off-screen, or you just stepped into some old, savage juices.
When Scarlett is invited to a slumber party at her crush’s house, the night turns for the worse when the girls play a cruel prank on her. Then, as the demons of the haunted house infiltrate Scarlett’s mind, things start to become deadly.
With American Horror Stories, released before the new season of American Horror Story (confusing yet?), it seems he’s rebooting a series that he’s moved beyond yet reeled back in. The dialogue is grossly underdeveloped and neglects to justify each decision. The relationship between Scarlett and her fathers feels more like she’s a roommate found on craigslist. Indeed, the magic of Ryan Murphy dissipates with his carelessness. He seems bored.
It’s unclear why this spinoff series exists and why FX might’ve held Murphy to a poorly conceived contract to deliver more from the franchise. But, soon enough, FX will fully integrate into Hulu, and there will be a nod to American Horror Stories for being the iceberg that sinks the network.
Audiences deserve more than this tepid series. We’re not that stupid.