Saturday, April 5, 2014

American Horror Story- Murder House- Episode 4- Halloween Part 1

**This review contains spoilers**

Synopsis: In 2010, Chad Warwick (Zachary Quinto) and his boyfriend, Patrick (Teddy Sears) are stuck in a miserable dead in life at the Murder House. Chad is preparing an extravagant Halloween showcase for the house, with the hopes of a front page magazine cover for a prestigious home decor magazine. Chad and Patrick are broke, but Chad keeps his fingers crossed for some positive publicity for the Halloween showcase to help sell house, giving Chad and Patrick a chance to move on with their lives.

After a heated argument about Patrick’s infidelity with his personal trainer, Patrick leaves the house, but the stranger in the latex suit surprises an unsuspecting Chad. Chad thinks Patrick is wearing the suit as a sign of good faith to move on after the argument, so Chad approaches the stranger. The stranger in the latex suit attacks Chad, the stranger dunks Chad’s head in a tub of water and apples, and the stranger breaks Chad’s neck. A stunned Patrick suddenly returns to apologize, but Patrick is stuck in a stunned silence after witnessing the sight of Chad’s corpse and the stranger in the latex suit…..

Ben (Dylan McDermott) and Vivien (Connie Britton) point the finger at Marcy (Christine Estabrook) for the lack of progress during a failed campaign to sell the house, so Marcy suggests a solution to fix the problem. With Ben and Vivien’s permission, Marcy hires two “fluffers” to redecorate and add a much needed sense of style to the house for a showcase on Halloween night. Marcy’s choices for a bargain deal for cheap fluffers? Chad and Patrick.

A panicky Vivien purchases an alarm system with Luke (Morris Chestnut) as an on-call security guard. Violet (Taissa Farmiga) reconnects with Tate (Evan Peters), and Tate reveals more details for the chilling backstory surrounding Nora Montgomery, Charles Montgomery, and the house. After a series of vehement refusals, Ben agrees to treat Tate again with a new set of rules: The treatments must take place outside of the house, and Tate is not allowed in the house under any circumstances.

On Halloween, Moira (Frances Conroy) visits her sick mother, and Constance (Jessica Lagne) buys a mask with a beautiful woman’s face for Addie (Jamie Brewer). Addie is tired of her annual Snoopy costume for trick-or-treating, and she wants a change as a “pretty girl” after a makeover from Violet.

Vivien reaches another tense boiling point with Ben on Halloween night, but a series of debilitating stomach pains forces Ben and Vivien into an emergency hospital trip. Violet is at home alone with strict “Do not open the door” orders from Ben, but a frustrated Larry Harvey (Dennis O’Hare) shows up. Larry bangs on the front door with demands for the $1,000 payment from Ben, and Violet runs into another problem, when the stranger in the latex suit returns………

Review: A vindictive Chad is still bitter about Patrick’s infidelity, so he decides to sabotage’s Ben and Vivien’s marriage. Chad suggests tearing down the gazebo (remember, Hayden’s corpse is buried under the gazebo) to expose Larry and Ben’s secret, and Chad takes his prying to another level with a crippling suggesting for Vivien. Using Chad’s suggestion, Vivien checks Ben’s phone bill to see a series of phone calls with Hayden’s number. During another tense argument, Ben lies about his trip to Boston (i.e. he never visited Hayden). 

Ben is stuck in another tough spot with Vivien. He’s running out of lies and time, and you can feel Vivien’s frustration here. To make matters worse, Vivien leaves a voicemail on Hayden’s phone, because she wants the truth about Ben’s trip to Boston……and Hayden returns the call. The look of devastating shock on McDermott’s face is priceless, because Hayden is supposed to be dead.

Charles and Nora? Tate tells another creepy tale (in an attempt to scare Violet) for the Montgomery’s creepy past. A vengeful boyfriend for one of Nora’s abortion clients kidnapped the Montgomery’s baby boy after a cryptic phone call. After the kidnapping, the police returned the dismembered corpse of Charles and Nora’s child in a box. Nora is focused on the funeral, but Charles uses his unconventional methods as a surgeon to “cheat death,” and Nora is horrified at the sight of Charles’ abomination.

During the hospital visit for her mother, a conflicted Moira removes the breathing tube on her mother’s life support machine, and Addie suffers a horrible death during her trick-or-treating spree. A hit and run driver kills Addie, and a grieving Constance tries to bury Addie in the Harmon’s backyard for a resurrection, but Addie loses the fight for her life. You can love or hate her character, but you have to feel sympathy for Constance after Addie’s death, and Jessica Lange did a great job of selling Constance’s overwhelming heartbreak for Addie.

Remember Hayden? Yeah, she’s not gone. For the finale, Vivien and Ben return to the house. The alarm is going off, and Violet is gone. There’s a knock on the door, but it’s not Larry Harvey. Instead, Hayden is standing outside, and a rattled Ben slams the door in Hayden’s face before Vivien notices anything.

A great shocker to close the show, and the timing is PERFECT. In the scene before Larry’s return, Violet is in the house alone, and Larry is banging on the door. Unbeknownst to Violet, the stranger in the latex suit is standing behind her.

There’s a pulse pounding shot with a petrified Violet standing in one place, with the stranger in the latex suit a few steps behind her, and you can hear the fiasco with Larry frantically knocking and ringing the door bell at the same time. The synchronization during this scene is brilliant, because Violet’s fate is up in the air, and you have no idea what’s going to happen first. And to add the icing on the cake, they pull the plug at the right moment with a sudden cut to the next scene.

As far as new editions to the cast go, Morris Chestnut’s screen time is limited here, so I can’t say too much about him, but you get a feeling he’ll play the role of a reliable support system for Vivien.

Halloween Part I is flawless, and so far, it’s the best episode for American Horror Story’s first season. My memory is kind of hazy, and I’m reliving the first season now, but I watched every episode in Asylum (season 2), and I vividly remember Coven (season 3, the most recent season). So when you compare this episode to other AHS episodes, Halloween Part I is a top contender  for the best AHS episode in all three seasons. On top of that, the short run time for this episode helps a lot, because you're dying to see what's going to happen next, when the credits start rolling.

The finale is loaded with suspenseful “edge of your seat” moments and nerve-wracking tension, the big return at the end is genuinely shocking, and Halloween Part I features one of the best cliffhangers you’ll ever see.  What happened to Violet? Will Constance seek revenge against Violet (remember, Violet is the one, who encouraged the “pretty girl” stuff)? Is Tate hiding something? Who is the stranger in the latex suit?

Halloween Part I features tantalizing unanswered questions, and there’s something fishy about Marcy. Out of all the people to hire, why would she choose a deceased Chad and Patrick? Marcy alluded to her close relationship with Chad and Patrick in Episode 3 (or “Murder House“), so there’s a chance Marcy is working with the evil forces (Constance?) at the Murder House to sabotage Ben and Vivien.

Rating: 10/10

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