A Review: American Horror Story— “My Roanoke Nightmare”

By Julie Booth

Warning: this article contains spoilers for “American Horror Story: My Roanoke Nightmare.”

It’s that time of the year again. It’s sweater season, it’s pumpkin spice season, and best of all it’s scary movie season. Two weeks ago, the “Blair Witch Project” remake kicked off the next two months of new scary movies to fill your Halloween with ghosts and horror. And right in the midst of it all is the sixth season of American Horror Story. That’s right, AHS is back and creepier than ever with new cast members, a new theme, and an entirely new style.

This season, titled “My Roanoke Nightmare,” takes place in Roanoke, North Carolina. Shelby and Matt, a couple from California, relocate to Roanoke to escape the trauma they faced in Los Angeles, and they move into an abandoned colonial farmhouse. As the days pass in their new house, stranger and stranger things keep happening to Shelby and Matt. They are haunted by forces still unknown to the viewer (there have only been two episodes thus far), but these forces seem to be becoming more and more hostile—and possibly violent—as our story progresses. After Shelby is held under water supposedly by men carrying torches, neither Matt nor the Roanoke police believe her. Regardless, Matt asks his sister Lee to stay in the house with Shelby while he is away on business. Lee and Shelby do not get along well but must band together, since more strange things begin to happen immediately in the house. Lee and Shelby hide in the basement as a mob of men with torches invade the house, leaving behind strange totems hanging from the ceilings and a video of a human sacrifice. Shelby begs to leave, but Matt refuses. She then decides to leave on her own, taking Matt’s car, accidentally hitting a woman with the car, getting lost in the woods in search of her, and, finally, witnessing the acts of some mysterious cult.

After barely escaping from the cult, Shelby vows to fight back against the forces haunting her and her husband. Soon Matt begins to have visions of murderous nurses in the house, and after discovering the home videos of the previous homeowner, he finds the evidence that corroborates his visions as fact. Unbeknownst to Shelby and Matt when they purchased the house, their new home has a dark and bloody past that is turning into an increasingly malevolent supernatural present. Meanwhile, Lee’s daughter Flora has been caught talking to her “new friend” Priscilla, whom at first they all presumed was an imaginary friend, but is now revealed to be an aggressive spirit intent on killing all four of the residents. The second episode, and the most recent at the time that I am writing this, ends as a shadowy figure of a girl beckons Flora outside. When Shelby, Matt, and Lee discover that she is missing, they search for her in the woods, only to find her yellow hoodie hanging from the top of a tree.

This sixth season stands in stark contrast to the previous five, as it is made in a documentary style with recorded interviews of the “real” Shelby, Matt, and Lee and dramatic reenactments of the events, starring AHS alums Lily Rabe, Sarah Paulson, Angela Bassett, and new cast member Cuba Gooding Jr. This documentary-style season is interesting since the viewer enters this season with the knowledge that Shelby, Matt, and Lee will survive whatever comes their way—a courtesy the creators of AHS have never before granted its viewers. However, this knowledge of the main characters’ fates does not in any way spoil the suspense of the show. The viewer is at no loss for a thrilling narrative, mysterious characters, and unanswered questions. Who are the ghosts haunting the house? Why do they want to kill Matt, Shelby, Lee, and Flora? And who are these cult members performing sacrifices in the woods? Are they even cult members at all, or are they the ghosts of the lost Roanoke colony? Each episode in this new season of AHS is packed with thrills, suspense, and questions begging to be answered—so much so that “My Roanoke Nightmare” might be AHS’s scariest season yet.

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