49. American Horror Story
Air Dates: October 5, 2011 - Present
Best Episode: "Pilot" (October 5, 2011)
We know what some of you are thinking: There's only been one American Horror Story episode so far, so how in the hell is one of TV “scariest”? To which we'll succinctly reply with, “Yeah, but did you see that episode?”
Still in its infantile stages, FX's wildly ambitious new genre hour went for broke in its pilot, effectively pilfering from The Shining (twin ghost kids, an old woman seen as a young hottie by the male protagonist) and executing a few dynamite set-piece—the flashing lights/glimpsed demon bit in the basement is one of television's freakiest sequences in quite some time.
Can the Ryan Murphy-backed American Horror Story sustain the pilot's chills and off-kilter dread for 13 episodes? We'll all have to tune in to find out, but one's thing for sure: American Horror Story tackles the haunted house motif with perverse bite, no fears of narrative darkness, and an unpredictably subversive aesthetic.