When I had watched Season 5 of American Horror Story last year, I was hardly impressed to say the least.
However, looking at Season 6 this autumn, I guess I’ll just have to eat my words.
Gone is the fake gratuitous soft porn thrown in simply to shock viewers into cheap thrills. Gone is the unneeded violence and lackadaisical plot. Instead of unexplained murders and ghouls, AHS takes us back to the mysterious plot lines, interesting characters, and dramatic acting so much admired during the first season. Entitled Murder House, Season 1 had focused on a haunted mansion and its historic violent past. Season 6, Roanoke, tackles not so much a haunted house, but an actual haunted piece of land, illustrating one of America’s oldest mysteries. The Season in fact makes reference to the historic mystery of the Roanoke colony, also known as the Lost Colony – a group of Americans who were sent to Roanoke Island in the New World (North America) in the 16th century, during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I, in an attempt to colonise it and establish a base camp. The 115 members of the colony all disappeared without a trace. The only remaining clue was the word ‘Croatoan’ scratched on the bark of a tree.
This season is, in a way, totally different from the previous ones, as all the episodes are presented in the format of a documentary. The narrative focuses on a married couple, who are telling us the story in a studio, while at the same time, people we know to be re-enactors play their parts in order for the viewers to understand what actually happened. Each character is therefore seen twice and portrayed by two different people. The ‘real’ character is interviewed in the filming studio, while the ‘re-enactors’ are the ones playing out the actual events.
The main plot line follows an interracial couple, Matt and Shelby. After being attacked by a street gang, they decide to leave the city and its perils, and relocate to an abandoned colonial farmhouse in North Carolina. The place is pretty isolated, and the uncouth and hostile neighbouring family do nothing to improve the atmosphere. Since Matt has to leave for long periods of time for work, he asks his sister, an ex-policewoman and an alcoholic divorcee, to stay with Shelby. Things start going downhill from there.
Although there are no pointless scenes whose sole aim is to shock viewers or wow the audience with cheap thrills, this doesn’t mean that the season isn’t terrifying. Indeed, brutal murders, human sacrifice, cannibalistic scenes, and horrifying surprises abound. All of these however, serve to colour a plot which evolves from thrilling suspense to a hellish nightmare where we, together with the main protagonists, end up not knowing what is real, and what is not; who’s dead, and who’s actually still alive.
Lady Gaga returns to AHS portraying a character totally different from the one she’d played in Season 5. The sophisticated sultry vampire countess, with her amazing clothes and her perfect make up, is a thing of the past. I admit, I actually hardly recognised her at first. Once again however, the artist’s amazing acting skills shine through in this role, as does the talent prevalent in the rest of the cast. My personal favourite is Kathy Bates.
All in all, AHS Season 6 is a real rollercoaster. If you appreciate a well-constructed storyline, realistic characters, historic drama and horror, this is definitely one ride you don’t want to miss!