Rubber (Wo)man: Part One
Episode 1 of American Horror Stories begins with a family moving into a haunted house. What could go wrong eh? Scarlet and her two Dads, Michael and Troy, are adamant this is a good idea. This also happens to be one of the most haunted houses in America, with a history involving whole families dying there.
Anyway, it doesn’t take long before things start getting creepy. Open doors, rolling balls and a strange black leather suit are our main dishes. It looks like the previous owners were seriously into BDSM. So Scarlett takes the suit and…puts it on? At least to begin with anyway. She soon realizes what she’s doing and puts it in the bin outside.
At school, Scarlett attends class with a whole group of kids who genuinely look around the same age as the teacher. According to Scarlett, shame is what stops people from revealing their true selves. Anyway, Scarlett’s outburst attracts the attention of a fellow student called Maya whom she fantasizes about that night at home.
The next day, Michael and Troy sit down with Scarlett and discuss the hardcore pornography on her computer. They mention how it’s warping her brain and even encourage the girl to see a therapist.
That night, Scarlett wears her S&M outfit again, having seemingly recovered it from the bin earlier on. She lashes out against her fathers but claims it’s just a prank. However, she does cause her Dad to have 10 stitches.
Speaking to her therapist, some of this angst seems to stem from an incident years back where Scarlett was abducted for 10 days. Scarlett has no knowledge of this though (and neither do we, as it turns out) but it could well be the root cause.
Anyway, Scarlett eventually blindsides the therapist as she heads off alone, knocking her down into the basement. She kills the girl in cold blood and sneaks out that night to attend her slumber party.
Unfortunately, Maya happens to be filming this entire event as Scarlett confesses her true feelings and porn habits for all to see.
Scarlett heads back home and rings Maya, blackmailing her into showing up at the murder house. If she doesn’t she’s going to commit suicide.
Well, the quartet of kids head into the house and down to the basement. Scarlett locks the door and with her S&M outfit on, brutally murders all of them. She wipes up the blood and hides them in her bedroom, behind a bricked up wall. Her therapist is there too, back as a ghost, and encourages her to come in for a session. Remorseless Scarlett however, tells her she’s never felt better.
The Episode Review
American Horror Stories gets off to an unintentionally hilarious start, with a gimp suit and skewed moral lessons. It’s something a lot of shows have struggled with these past few years, and here it falls to a teen brutally murdering four girls in her basement (and her therapist too) while still presenting Scarlett as a morally sound protagonist.
The story itself is completely devoid of horror too, and worse the show doesn’t have any significant moments of suspense either. There’s perhaps one incident early on when Scarlett is wandering through the hallways that manages to conjure this but beyond that the whole show plays out as a watered down teen melodrama. If that’s what you’re after then great, and while this obviously is going to be similar in tone to American Horror Story, the character writing here is poor, to say the least.
Hopefully the second part can improve as there’s been Goosebumps stories that are creepier and better written than this. Still, we’re only seeing half the story so it could well be that Scarlett gets her comeuppance as the murderer she’s now become. We shall see!