TV ReviewsInitial Thoughts on American Horror Story: My Roanoke Nightmare

September 15, 2016

After much anticipation and very little information, the sixth installment of Ryan Murphy’s anthology series, “American Horror Story”, is finally here. The theme? My Roanoke Nightmare. Let me start off by saying wow, I think we are in for a fantastic season!

Not only is this season returning a great cast, which includes: Sarah Paulson, Angela Basset, Lady Gaga, and Matt Bomer to name a few, but the setting should make for some intriguing and suspenseful storytelling.

For those of you unfamiliar with the Roanoke Colony, it was a British settlement on Roanoke Island, in present day North Carolina. Originally formed in the late 1500’s, the colony was home to around 100 people who all disappeared without a trace. To this day there is no substantial evidence as to what happened and therefore has taken on the name, “The Lost Colony”, creating a perfect theme for American Horror Story.

In the first episode we meet our first three main characters: Shelby, Matt, and Lee. The unusual part, however, is it’s filmed in a documentary style so there are two different actors playing each role (more on this later). The first set reunites the wonderful Sarah Paulson (Shelby) and Cuba Gooding Jr. (Matt) from their time together on the FX series “American Crime Story”. Here they are joined by Angela Bassett (Lee). This trio reenacts the story as it happened, while Lily Rabe, Andre Holland, and Adina Porter play their “real-life” counterparts as they depict the events in what we can assume is an interview.

Couple Matt and Shelby move into an old farmhouse in North Carolina after their experience in L.A. left Matt in a coma and caused Shelby to miscarry their child. While this may seem like the fresh start they needed, the house they bought just so happens to be in the middle of a forest (when will people learn?) and is miles from the nearest Podunk town. One reason I found myself hooked on this season so quickly is because the “horror” occurs almost immediately, whether it’s the sketchy hillbilly folk or from the downpour of human teeth. For this reason, Matt’s sister Lee, a former police officer, came to stay with them while Matt was on the road for work. Things only escalated from here. 

As per usual, the first episode left us with more questions than answers, especially given how it ends, but this is without a doubt a good thing. I was worried, however, when I saw that this season is seemingly going to be filmed like a pseudo-documentary. Early on, I found myself annoyed by this format as it didn’t allow the audience to interpret and infer things on their own, which goes a long way to building suspense. However, there was a point in the episode where all we see is Shelby and Lee react in horror in their “interview” without saying a word before it cuts back to what was going on. At that point I was sold. Credit must be given to director Bradley Buecker for this added so much tension to the scene, and ultimately convinced me this style could make for a very strong season.

Overall I found myself very pleased with the first episode of “My Roanoke Nightmare”. It was dark and the scenes were intense. And even though we’ve only met a portion of the cast so far, I’m convinced it can only get better. As we get deeper into Ryan Murphy’s interpretation of what happened on Roanoke Island, things will surely escalate.

Score: 8/10




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