American Horror Story episode 4 review: Halloween Part 1

Ron continues to salute the creepy and unpredictable American Horror Story...

American Horror Story

This review contains spoilers.

4. Halloween Part 1

It’s Halloween at the Murder House, and that means it’s time for the Harmons and all their rowdy friends to come on over for a good time. Actually, it means that the Harmons are going to be paying for a pair of gay interior decorator types, dubbed fluffers, to come in and give the Murder House a makeover, both in appearance and in image.

The two men, Chad (Zachary Quinto) and his husband Patrick (Teddy Sears), are there to make the house look charming and fun… just like they tried to do in 2010 before their murder/suicide (or possible double murder) happened.

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Of course, the two gay ghosts aren’t just there to make things nicer at Murder House, they’re also there to stir up a little discord. Patrick tries to seduce Ben, while Chad and Vivien have a nice little discussion of their respective family problems, and how the best way to sniff out a cheater is to check his cell phone records. And guess who is all over Ben’s cell phone lately? That’s right, Hayden. Even if Larry Harvey (aka Crispy) doesn’t get his $1000, Ben’s secret might not remain buried for long.

It goes without saying that Halloween is a big night for Murder House’s inhabitants, both the human and former human, as Halloween is the only night of the year in which the spirits of the dead are free to roam the earth, according to a book on Celtic myths Constance’s boy-toy is reading to Addie.

I guess that’s why we have a lot of call backs to the previous episodes, even when we’re not getting filled in on the back story of Charles and Nora Montgomery by Tate. The more of their sordid lives get revealed, the more interesting they become (and the more interesting the Murder House’s history gets). The Lindberg baby combined with a Frankenstein complex? Sign me up for more of that, please. That’s my kind of weird.

The scenes with Addie this week were simply heartbreaking. Poor Addie’s desire to go as a pretty girl for Halloween in particular, as was Constance’s treatment of her through most of the episode.

Jessica Lange, as always, was excellent this week, and she had a stellar moment at the end of the episode. More impressively, Jamie Brewer, who plays Addie, also did very well while holding her own against Lange. That’s not easy for an actress, let alone one with a disability. Frances Conroy and Denis O’Hare also get some great work this week, too, with France’s take on Moira getting another heartbreaker of a scene on the one night a year spirits can freely walk.

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Amazingly, the show’s central characters are consistently getting upstaged by the supporting cast, yet somehow the parts of the show without said supporting cast are still strong. Connie Britton continues to prove that she deserved that Emmy for best actress for her role on Friday Night Lights by knocking her part out of the park, week after week. Taissa Farmiga’s Violet is a great humanizing character, whether she’s casting aspersions on Tate’s storytelling or helping Addie feel like a pretty girl. As for Ben, Dylan McDermott is handling the character’s increasingly unstable mindset very gracefully (and his scenes with Tate this week proved to be surprisingly endearing, as it’s clear Ben is in way over his head).

There were a lot of very sad things this week, but that was counterbalanced by a surplus of general weirdness, amusing dialogue, and many, many cameo appearances by Leatherman, as well as some old friends. Just when it seems like things are kind of settling down, someone returns to haunt the Harmons anew, be it Crispy Larry pounding on the doors, or one of the many murder victims on the premises reminding us that hey, they’re still around somewhere. Even when there aren’t ghosts hovering around, there’s always some kind of surprise in store for the neighborhood.

I have to say, it’s another great episode from one of the creepiest shows on TV. Even when they’re not going all out with the terror – as they didn’t in this week’s episode – American Horror Story is still a great watch. The acting is stellar, and even cameo appearances are chock full of notable character actors (see for example V‘s Morris Chestnut shows up as an alarm installer/security guard). The writing has been top notch since the first minute was broadcast, and the production values are great (especially the use of music, camera angles, and editing).

There’s an unpredictable streak in the show that can catch even the most aware viewer by surprise. Even if it doesn’t shock you, it’ll still be fun to see how things unfold along the way because the show is so well put together. I’m glad there’s a full season waiting in the wings for the programme’s many viewers, because I’d hate to see this show die an early death. Unless, of course, it could come back as a ghost.

Read our review of episode three, Murder House, here.

US Correspondent Ron Hogan thinks that the only thing missing from AHS’s Halloween special is a guest appearance by Michael Myers. Find more by Ron daily at Shaktronics and PopFi.