IT’S 1978, and Adelaide, a girl with Down syndrome, plays in front of an abandoned house.
She tries to warn rascally twin brothers not to go into the house, but they ignore her and head inside with the intention of creating havoc.
When they begin to rummage around the basement, havoc — no, make that hell— comes to them.
It’s a scene in American Horror Story, which then jumps to the present and introduces the Harmons — a shrink, Ben ( Dylan McDermott), his wife Vivien (Connie Britton) and their daughter Violet (Taissa Farmiga), who are moving into the aforementioned house of horrors.
‘‘ The show really gets into your subconscious,’’ McDermott says.
‘‘ It will wake you up . . . and keep you up.’’
McDermott, 50, shot to stardom on the David E. Kelley legal drama The Practice, but has since not found a show that was a hit with both critics and fans.
He appears in action series Dark Blue, but it is his role in American Horror Story that has casting agents taking notice again.
‘‘ It’s such a crap shoot,’’ he says of acting.
‘‘ So few movies and TV shows do well. I feel I won the lottery. Everything after The Practice has been gravy.’’
McDermott has had traumatic times away from acting. He was five when his mother, Diane, died of a gunshot wound to the head in 1967.
The death was classified as accidental, but Dylan contacted police with questions and requested the cold case be reopened.
The main suspect, gangster John Sponza, was not available for questioning as he was found dead in the trunk of a car in 1972. But police reinterviewed protected informants and reviewed press clips to deduce that Sponza had murdered Ms McDermott. American Horror Story, FX channel, Tuesday, 8.30pm Additional reporting: GEMMA GRAHAM Family ties: Connie Britton, Dylan McDermott and Taissa Farmiga as the Harmon family.