So we have chapters this time round, not episodes?
I honestly don’t have any idea what the theme of this year’s American Horror Story is on account of some marketing guru deciding they’d be super mysterious to generate buzz. For me this meant I got distracted and wandered off to something else. But it’s apparently called “Roanoke.” So I’m guessing another croatoan myth? With a hefty chunk of Blair Witch as well I see
The format appears to be “documentary” with a claim of the show being based on true events recap. So every role has two actors: the “actual” person and then an actor playing the re-enactment which is a pretty unique format. I’m curious how this works – it does give a real sense of reality to the whole show
And it was scary. Yes, this episode was scary. I was spooked.
So, what do we have? We have our protagonists: Shelby and Matt, a successful married couple embarking on their dream life on the West Coast until a random attack in the street has Matt in the hospital and Shelby miscarrying.
They are naturally traumatised deeply by this and feel the need to leave to feel safe again
So this interracial couple moves to rural Virginia. To feel safe
I’m just going to leave that there.
They also are miles and miles away from absolutely everyone in the spookiest house ever – certainly spookier than the murder house in season 1.
They also acquire neighbours that are such terrible redneck hillbilly stereotypes that even Deliverance would have declared them excessive. They also hate Shelby and Mitch
This is where you go to feel safe? Uh-huh… look there are placed on active fault lines and by volcanoes? I think that may be safer places
Let’s also add to this that Matt is a travelling salesman so Shelby is alone most of the time. Also her profession is “yoga”… how she can teach a yoga class when she is literally in the middle of nowhere. And if she isn’t teaching classes, exactly what does her profession involve? Can “yoga” just be a profession.
Anyway, spooky things happen – including the bind being vandalised with lots of pig squealing sounds (Matt believes the neighbours are racist and persecuting them), lots of people with torches and Shelby being attacked in the hot tub and nearly drowned by people she describes as “people with torches in period dress”. It’s not shocking that no-one believes her that cosplayers are attacking her.
Of course maybe I’m a little doubtful because I think I’ve seen like, maybe, 3 scenes in this episode where she hasn’t had a big glass of wine in hand. Also she’s wearing a backless jumper. I mean the whole point of a jumper is to be woolly and keep you warm. Who has a backless jumper?
The police are not exactly supportive as they find little collaborating evidence. But even as the acts become more blatant, the police continue to be pretty indifferent. Matt also finds a skinned pig on their doorstep…
Also there is a hailstorm of teeth. Human teeth
In the face of Shelby’s growing fear, Matt calls his sister in to stay with Shelby
Her history – she was a cop who lost her job after she became addicted to prescription drugs after being injured which in turn led to her divorce. This is an interesting exploration of addiction, how prescriptions drugs are very addictive and how it is easy to become addicted to them after an injury. It also shows Lee’s personality – pretty harsh and unforgiving (it’s very clear she’s very judgemental of those “other” addicts, unlike her).
Lee is also not a fan of Shelby – a viewpoint that is shared with interest so that’s not going to go well. She’s pretty sure Shelby is making it all up and is just being completely hysterical.
Which means she is there when someone rolls bottles of wine around (taunting her fight for sobriety), them being lured into the basement with spooky sounds, made to watch a home video with some kind of scary pig beast in it – and then the lights go out
When they finally escape the basement the whole vast foyer of the house is filled with corn dollies strung up. It is creepy. So very very creepy
The police dismiss this as “vandalism”. Really? Vandalism? This?
Shelby wants to leave but Matt points out they’ve sunk all their savings into this house (yeah, can we address that? Because they bid on this house for $21,000 and then Matt just sunk all their $40k savings into the house without even consulting Shelby… there’s an issue there). Lee and Matt are determined to stay
So Shelby leaves – she runs out of the house and drives off in the middle of the night. She ends up in the middle of the woods and hitting an old woman. She stops to check on her (nooooo! Keep driving! Drive forever!) and ends up lost in the woods
Where we find more corn dollies, hillbillies with torches – and a man with his head cleaved in two.
Ok, that was duly creepy. I say again that this episode is very very creepy. And it’s creepy without the usual reliance of lots of gore and horror – but tension and fear.