American Horror Story: Roanoke is the sixth incarnation of Ryan Murphy and Brian Falchuk’s horror anthology series.
The first two seasons of AHS were amazing but seemed to plummet in originality and became less interesting as the seasons went on. However, this season is a massive departure from the previous five as the show appears to be trying something completely different.
In the run up to a new season of AHS, usually the subtitle is revealed and half a dozen terrifying teaser trailers are released hinting at the theme of the new season. However, this time around, no subtitle was made obvious to the audience and the trailers were seemingly random giving this season an air of mystery.
The first half of season six is constructed as a paranormal documentary series; a married couple moving to Roanoke Island in North Carolina, recreating the strange happenings they experienced there. Think The Blair Witch Project with a hint of Paranormal Activity and My Ghost Story thrown in for good measure.
So it works out that Sarah Paulson and Cuba Gooding Jr. play the roles of actors re-enacting the experiences of characters played by Lily Rabe and André Holland. You with me?
The second half of the season is then structured as a haunted house documentary show. All the characters – actors and original victims – are all put together into the house where they’re filmed for three days. Sort of like a Big Brother: Haunted Edition. However, the documentary becomes a bona fide horror story as the cameras catch footage of everyone involved in the project being tormented and brutally killed.
However, everything changes in the final episode as all genres and media forms come together to finish the story; talk shows, news channels, amateur footage, even YouTube. They’re all used to piece together the final outing of this season with an intelligent and gripping conclusion. Showing how powerful media can be in all its forms. This season reiterates that not-so-famous quote by Jim Morrison – ‘Whoever controls the media, controls the mind.’
After the convoluted, disturbing, and frankly ridiculous (even by AHS standards) storylines of more recent seasons such as Freakshow and Hotel, it almost feels like a relief to see the writers returning to a more basic ‘scary story’ akin to the shows very first season. But don’t be fooled; I still had to watch a lot of the scenes from behind a pillow. There was just so much cannibalism.
The series has just finished airing on FOX in the UK, and it was definitely one of the better seasons of the show with its Blair-Witch-Paranormal-Activity feel and refreshingly simple set up. Seasons one to five are currently available on Netflix, and I’d predict season six would go up within the next year. Go ahead and watch them…if you dare.