Posts Tagged ‘American Horror Story: Roanoke’

I finally watched the final episode of American Horror Story’s seventh season (one day I’ll be able to give a review right after the season premiere or finale on my own cable package), and I have to say, this has definitely been an interesting season. When people heard that the new season was going to be about the 2016 American Presidential Election, after months of speculation that it would be about either a cruise or something else ocean-related, we weren’t sure what to expect. Would it be preachy and lean towards one end of the political spectrum or the other? Would Trump, Clinton, or some other political figure be featured as a character? And would Sarah Paulson play Trump (if she did, she’d be great at it, no doubt)? And as further details came out, namely that it would be about a cult that arose in the wake of the election and focused on people who felt isolated and galvanized by the election, we got intrigued. Could this actually work as a season arc? Could this be good?

Well, before I get into that, let’s go a bit deeper into the plot. Returning to a normal mode of storytelling after the reality TV show format of Roanoke and being perhaps the most down-to-Earth season in the show’s history, Cult follows two very different people who become intertwined in ways neither would believe. The first is Allie Mayfair-Richards, a business owner and mother with liberal leanings and crippling anxiety who isn’t dealing well in the post-election climate. The other is Kai Anderson, a charismatic young man who begins to gather a group of devoted followers around him as he pursues power in local politics. As their lives start to intersect, they’ll not only make permanent impressions in each other’s lives, they’ll make impressions in the very surface of American politics.

I loved this season. Yes, the first two episodes were kind of slow and clunky, more devoted to commentary than to actually scaring the viewer, but after that the story and scares really picked up. The writers kept things very intimate, so that while this may have seemed like a big story about national politics and American political culture on the surface, it felt incredibly intimate, letting us into the lives and minds of these people. As per usual with American Horror Story, the story was twisty as heck, keeping you guessing where the story would go from one episode to the next and being unable to figure out most of the time where things would go. And after the second episode, they managed to keep the political commentary from getting too over the top. In fact, I think they managed to capture the spirit of American politics very well in this season: confused, divisive, changing from day to day and week to week. Things come up and down, change and merge and break, and become so muddled that you don’t know how it all started. All this was captured very well in this season.

And oh my God, that ending! That’s going to stay in my head for a while.

Beware this guy. He is a villain par excellence.

I also really enjoyed the characters. Obviously, the two main ones are exaggerated distillations of the stereotypes of the liberal and conservative voters, with Kai representing some of the darker views of what Donald Trump is to some Americans, but they also feel like real people whom you want to watch and see where they want to go from episode to episode. Each major character is given time to develop so that they feel real to the viewer, and you feel their struggles and/or death. I especially love Beverly Hope, played by Adina Porter (who played my favorite character last season), whose struggles within her workplace, followed by her struggles within a cult that changes drastically from the time she joins to the time she escapes. Kai is also just terrifying to watch. You know what his final goal is, but you never know what to expect from him from moment to moment. He’s like a pinball, causing something every time he touches something. He makes for a great villain. And watching Allie go from this weak, paranoid woman to this strong, somewhat devious fighter was just stunning.

Now, were there any parts I didn’t care for? Well, as I said, the first two episodes didn’t jibe with me, they were more devoted to commentary and set up than actual scares. Those could have been done better. Another issue I had was that I felt the final episode was kind of predictable. I mean, once I saw where it started, I kind of knew where it was going to go (except for maybe that last scene). I expect better from American Horror Story.

I also didn’t care for Lena Dunham playing Valerie Solanas in the seventh episode. Now, I have nothing against Lena Dunham. I think she’s a great crusader for a number of important issues, and I admire her for the success she’s had in the entertainment business. But sadly, I’ve only seen her in a couple of roles, not enough to get a gauge on whether or not I like her as an actress. And in the seventh episode, she just felt miscast. The episode was written brilliantly, the character she played was interesting, but she just didn’t fit well into the role, to the point that she was annoying (I don’t mean that in a sexist way, I just mean she didn’t fit the role and it had a negative impact. Don’t go after me in the comments).

And finally, I felt like the clown costumes could’ve used an explanation. Yes, the character Meadow designed the costumes, but why clowns? Why not a minority abused by the right, or ninjas, or just people dressed in dark clothing? It’s hinted that it has something to do with Twisty the Clown, who makes a surprise guest appearance in the first episode, but we never find out why the cult decides to commit crimes in custom-made clownsuits. I would’ve loved an explanation on that, especially since clowns figured so much in the advertising for the season (speaking of which, where are the bees? They show up a lot in the ads and the opening theme, but barely in the show proper).

This needed more of an explanation.

But other than that, American Horror Story: Cult was a great entry into the series. On a scale of 1 to 5, I give this season a 4.2, as well as the designation of my second favorite season so far (Hotel‘s still the best). It’s engaging, thrilling, and different from any other season so far. Plus it does a better job of talking about oppression and women’s empowerment than Coven ever did, so good on the writers for fixing that mistake. Check it out, and see it for yourself.

Now as for Season 8, details are scarce beyond that it will come out sometime next year, and that Sarah Paulson will return for her eighth consecutive season (yay!). I’m still hoping that I’ll eventually get an Orphanage or Academy/School-themed season. I’m curious as to how, if the theory about each season being a circle of Hell is true, how those themes might apply to those circles that are left. And I’m wondering who will be coming and going for the next season (Lady Gaga! Kathy Bates! Please come back!).

Well, that’s American Horror Story for you. It leaves you wondering up until the moment something happen, and then it blows us all away.

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Well, I finally watched the season finale of American Horror Story: Roanoke (the horrors of having no TV, right?), and I’m keeping up my tradition of reviewing the season as a whole. And I have to say, this is probably AHS‘s best season yet (though it probably won’t replace Hotel as my favorite season).

So if you didn’t know, Roanoke is about a young couple who move into a colonial house that is actually haunted by the ghosts of the Lost Colony of Roanoke. It’s told in the form of reality TV shows, with the last episode being mostly a compilation of news reports, crime specials, and interviews. I said in my review of the first episode that I thought the season had an eerie beginning, and that it was an interesting hook for the season that’s supposed to begin tying up all the connections between seasons.

Well, interesting quickly evolved into awesome. There is not a moment in Roanoke where it gets boring or you want to look away. It keeps you guessing, with twists in the plot, a constantly creepy and strange atmosphere, and characters that keep revealing hidden depths. I also really enjoyed how the majority of the season was told in the form of reality shows. It’s often said that reality shows are more show than reality, and you really feel that in this season, with the truth being up for debate throughout most of the show (I think we can say it’s the main theme for this season). Not only that, but it’s taking genres that feel tired and done to death, like found footage and crime reality, and puts a new spin on them through the strange world of AHS. And there’s a lot more I loved about this season, but I don’t want to spoil it for people who are still catching up (hit me up in the comments for in-depth discussions).

And while we’re on the subject of faorite things, I think my favorite episode was the last episode, which focuses on Lee Harris, my favorite character. The episode was just so much more than wrapping up loose ends, and it had such a twist in the last ten minutes that I truly loved. And Lee was such a complex character. She was trying so desperately to hang onto the only good thing left in her life, and

There were a couple of things that could’ve been improved upon, of course. This was the season that was supposed to tie things up, but it only offered a few explanations on the origins of a few characters and ideas. We didn’t get that full explanation of how the interconnected world of AHS we’d been hoping for, though maybe that’s for later seasons. Then again, it’s the speculating that’s the most fun, so maybe there’s wisdom in keeping things hidden for a while longer. I also thought that the character played by Taissa Farmiga, everybody’s favorite character from seasons one and three, and the two characters with her during the ninth episode, was shoehorned in. They were almost unnecessary. You could’ve told the rest of that episode without those characters, I’m sure.

But all in all, I truly enjoyed this season, which earns a solid 4.4 out of 5. It’s creepy, inventive, and you’ll want to see it from start to finish all in one go. I’m looking forward to Season 7.

And speaking of Season 7, we’ve already been given a teaser from Twitter about what we can expect next year:

What could it mean? I’ve heard some discussion that it might be cruise themed, as there was a model ship in the season finale that the camera spent quite a bit of time on. It’s possible that they may do a season inspired by that nightmare cruise ship fiasco from a few years ago, which would be cool. Still, I wouldn’t take this teaser too seriously. Roanoke was given a ton of false teasers before the first episode, so it could be a red herring. Which means I can still hope for an Orphanage or Academy season. Maybe with Adina Porter, Lee Harris’s actress, and Lady Gaga as teachers with tons of secrets? PLEEEEEEASE!!!!

What did you think of AHS: Roanoke? What was your favorite part of the season?

What are you hoping for Season 7? Who would you like to see come back?

NaNoWriMo update: At the moment, I’m just under eight-thousand words. Yeah, not good for sixteen days in, but what can I say? I only have so much time to write! Still, I like how Full Circle is coming along so far. It’s the normal quality of a first draft, but it’s a good basis for a great final novel in a trilogy. So even if I’m going very slowly through the draft, I think it’ll be a great story when I finally do finish it. Wish me luck!

(The following review contains some spoilers. Reader discretion is advised)

It’s finally here. After months of speculation, of no subtitle or definitive casting list, we have the new season of American Horror Story…and I had to wait a day because I don’t have a TV and I work. That sucks, but you learn to live with it. Anyway, since Hotel ended, there has been rampant speculation as to what Season 6 would be. Rumor was we were supposed to get the theme earlier this summer, but after Orlando, the show’s producers decided to hold back, and instead tease us with multiple trailers that may or may not be related to the actual story of Season 6.

But as of last night, we have a theme, and it is Roanoke! Now for those of you not familiar with American history or who haven’t seen the show’s first season in full, let me explain: Roanoke was an early American colony on the North Carolina coast in the late 16th century. One day, ships from England returned to the colony after a long absence with supplies, only to find the colony mysteriously empty, with not a person in sight. There were no signs of plague or foul play, and the only indicator of what might have happened was a single word carved into a tree trunk: Croatoan. The strange circumstances around the “Lost Colony” has led to a number of theories, both credible and crazy, as well as numerous fictional works about the disappearance.

And it looks like AHS is tackling Roanoke’s legend this year, and they’re doing it in odd fashion too. Rather than telling it like a regular story, as they’ve done in past seasons, AHS is presenting season 6 as a Discovery Channel docuseries called My Roanoke Nightmare, which tells the story of a couple who move into an old house and start to experience strange, supernatural events, both through interviews in what I assume to be a studio, and through dramatic reenactments with actors (it’s very meta). And from the looks of it, it may not be your average haunted house story. Already there are plenty of hints that there’s more to this season than meets the eye, and with showrunner Ryan Murphy promising that this season will begin to tie up the series’ sprawling mythology, you know you’re in for something interesting.

So what did I think of the first episode? Well, it’s definitely intriguing. It’s not the fright fest that the first episode of Hotel was, but I think that’s intentional. This episode is meant to be a lure, showing just enough to get us interested in the story. Which it does very well, giving us a format and a setup that is different from the norm. And near the end, you’re given quite a lot of weird stuff that hints at a very dense story for this season, which will definitely make longtime fans want more.

And speaking of more, I get the sense that, like the story, there’s more to the characters we’re seeing. As the season is modeled after a docuseries, you don’t really see the people in it. You see a version of them meant to keep people interested in the show. You’ve got the interracial couple who we’re supposed to root for, as well as a sister-in-law who has a lot of baggage, and as time goes on, I’m sure we’ll get more characters who start out as versions of people who are meant to keep our interest in the story, but, in typical AHS fashion, their characters will go in directions that nobody will expect, and it’ll be both bonkers and totally amazing.

In any case, this season will conclude in November after ten episodes, just like a real docuseries, so I have a feeling that we’ll get a pretty fast-paced season compared to the past. I’m not sure if that’s a good thing (a few slow moments to develop characters are sometimes necessary for good storytelling), but it’ll definitely be different, and in an anthology series that has surprised and terrified us year after year, that’s definitely what we, the viewers, expect.

All in all, this is a solid start for the show’s sixth season. It’s not super-scary, but it definitely is interesting and I have a feeling plenty of people will be buzzing about the possibilities right up until Episode 2. On a scale of 1 to 5, I’m giving the first episode of American Horror Story: Roanoke a 4 out of 5. Good luck, AHS. I have high hopes for you this year. Don’t let us down.

Well, that’s all for now, my Followers of Fear. I’m getting The Conjuring 2 from the library this weekend, so I’ll most likely be doing a review of that as well. Yeah, I’m not doing too well on that whole “two blog posts a month” thing, am I? Well, until then, have some pleasant nightmares!