American Horror Story: Roanoke premiere episode reviewed

❉ We review the first episode of the eagerly awaited sixth season of American Horror Story. SPOILERS!

“Is anyone there?”

The answer is yes. Of course there is. You brought a strange, ancient farmhouse in the woods. Naturally it’s haunted. But let’s backtrack here a bit.

This season of ‘American Horror Story’ has been kept under wraps. No subtitle revealed. No cast list. No official photos. No footage. We came in knowing nothing. And we left….knowing nothing.

The apparent hook for this season is a reality docudrama called ‘My Roanoke Nightmare’. We have talking heads in the form of Shelby (Lily Rabe) and Matt (Andre Holland) and we see through dramatic reenactments, how after a gang attack which results in a miscarriage, Shelby and Matt (as played by Sarah Paulson and Cuba Gooding Jr) decide to head to North Carolina. They stumble upon a house in the woods. And they buy it. Because that’s what you do. The poor, poor, unfortunate bastards.

Then strange things start to happen. Obviously. Things like a pig squealing in the middle of night, home intrusions, teeth raining down from the sky, a skinned pig, and an attempted drowning in the outdoor hot tub. Did I mention the bit where it RAINS TEETH? Seriously. And Shelby’s reaction to this is to very quietly hug Matt. No. I would be like ‘It’s raining teeth! We gots to go!”, but I digress. Obviously, the local rednecks are to blame. Shelby and Matt are an interracial couple, and some locals did try to buy the house. Plus, rednecks are known for their teeth raining superpowers.

So in comes Lee, Matt’s sister (played by Adina Porter in the interviews and Angela Bassett in the drama). She has addiction problems, which resulted in the loss of her job and her family. Matt brings her in to keep Shelby safe when he’s away, because he’s travelling salesman. Obviously. Which is fine; Angela Bassett is a badass bitch and she’s not taking any shit from ghosts or teeth raining rednecks. Plus she’s got a gun. That’ll keep them safe. But does she carry it on her? In the middle of the woods, in the world’s most poorly lit house? No. It’s upstairs somewhere locked away. Obviously.

Matt installs cameras to keep a eye on things whilst he’s away. Because why not get some ‘Paranormal Activity’ type scares while we’re at it? Sadly, none appear. Perhaps next week.

Through some odd series of events, Shelby and Lee end up in the basement watching a video that has a Pig Man in it. Pig….Man….. We got a theme, folks. Add some creepy ‘Blair Witch’ style house decorating and Shelby has had enough. So she drives out of Dodge. Except she doesn’t. To say anything else would be more spoilers than I care to divulge. Let’s just say it has an abrupt ending.

❉ Since the people who actually lived through these events are alive and well and talking in the interviews, there’s no real a sense of danger.

❉ This reality docudrama HAS to be a red herring. No way can it sustain a whole season of this. My theory is that in an episode or two we will see it cut out to the actors filming the docudrama on location and things will spring from there. I’m thinking a ‘House of Seven Corpses’ type scenario. We shall see.

❉ Look very closely for Kathy Bates, Wes Bentley, and Denis O’Hare.

❉ I find it amusing they’ve cast older people as the younger ones in the docudrama. That doesn’t happen often in Hollywood.

❉ The ‘Next Week’ trailer looks promising. More Kathy Bates and more story reveals. More reasons why these people should just leave.

Do yourself a favour and look up the Roanoke Colony disappearances. It was a very popular topic US history classes, but elsewhere? Your mileage may very.

Is it scary? Maybe? I’m admittedly a horror wimp, but besides a few jump scares, it’s mainly unsettling. Which works for me. Zero humour, so far, so that’s a bit disappointing. The acting is as good as always. The story beats are cliché, but maybe that can be chocked up to the fact that this is supposed to emulate a kitschy show you’d watch on TV. I’m a bit worried that we might be retreading S1, but we shall see.

Overall, it’s well done, effectively off putting and I’ll certainly be tuning in next week to try to solve the mystery.

❉ Chapter one of ‘American Horror Story: Roanoke’ first aired on 14 September 2016.

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