FX’s upcoming spookfest American Horror Story may be a creep show of the highest order, but at its core it’s a drama about “marriage and infidelity,” co-creator Ryan Murphy told reporters at the Television Critics Association summer press tour in Beverly Hills.
That sentiment was echoed by leading lady Connie Britton, who plays one half of the show’s central couple (The Practice‘s Dylan McDermott costars as her husband). “I’m afraid of horror movies,” Britton admitted. “I’m afraid of the genre. I did the remake of Nightmare on Elm Street because I wanted to face my fears… This transcends my perception of horror. It’s not just horror. it’s about this grounded relationship.”
But make no mistake: Horror Story has its share of thrills, chills and gore. “[Ryan and I] are obsessed with the genre,” noted co-creator Brad Falchuk, who cited Rosemary’s Baby and Don’t Look Now among their influences. “[Our goal was], ‘How can we bust the genre up, while paying homage to all those things we love so much.'”
One complaint about the pilot — which drew a mix of cheers and jeers when screened for critics earlier this week — was that there were simply too many overlapping plots and mysteries to keep track of. It was particularly challenging to ascertain what was real and what was a hallucination — something Murphy said would be addressed early on. “[The premiere] has eight cliffhangers in it that asks that question,” he acknowledged. “[We] felt that we had an oblighation to explain a lot of things that were set up. By the third episode those mysteries are settled and the audience can be along for the ride.”
Murphy addressed talk that each season would feature a brand new ensemble. “It’s not necessarily true that the cast is [only around] for one year,” he said. “We’re keeping that open.”
Horror Story debuts with a 90-minute premiere on Oct. 5.