Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Review: American Horror Story: Roanoke

Title: American Horror Story: Roanoke
Starring: Kathy Bates, Sarah Paulson, Cuba Gooding Jr. Lily Rabe
Language: English
Genre: Drama, Horror, Thriller
Episodes: 10

How psyched were you when you found out that this season’s AHS was going to focus on Roanoke, and GHOSTS!?!?!?!?!?

I was super psyched. My all-time favorite season has always been Murder House. I can’t help it, I love the ghosties! I don’t believe in ghosts myself, but I’ve always always always been super into ghost stories. They’re like little history vignettes personified. Ah, love it!

The elements were sort of similar to Murder House as well. There’s a main entity that got the whole ghost thing started (ahem, Lady Gaga and the colonists), a variety of ghosts from different time periods, and a super fantastic looking old house.

However season 6 used different techniques from previous seasons that both helped keep the narrative interesting, but also fell victim to a lot of the problems I have with AHS in general.

We start off with My Roanoke Nightmare, an “unsolved mysteries” type show with dramatic reenactments. I love those types of shows so it really resonated and I was into it. However, as we progressed, I noticed a glaring flaw. Anyone who’s talking about what happened obviously didn’t die so a lot of the tension just wasn’t there. Jeez, lady. It’s dark and you’re in a hot tub by yourself in the middle of nowhere?! Oh wait, nothing too bad is going to happen because you are here telling us this story. Carry on.

I think Ryan Murphy realized this, too, because part two had all the actors and their “real” counterparts come back to do a Big Brother type show. Besides not being able to imagine why anyone would have any motivation to go back (especially Matt), I hate reality shows like that. Captivation lost. Having the actors, the “real” characters, and “real” ghosts all together was like too many cooks in the kitchen and created a huge clusterfluff.

I still would have been on board with this premise (after all, it does take care of all that lost tension when you bring every one back), but I swear Ryan Murphy can’t help but play Jenga with his creations. Not only did he add a part three with a “ghost team” but also a part four with a found-footage-Blair-witch thing and a part five with a cops thing and a part six with a 20/20-dateline type thing.

This was too much. What’s the next thing after overkill? This was two stops past that.

I would much rather have had a ghost team and amateur ghost team combination instead of the big brother portion.

I didn’t like the gore, but then again I’m not a gore person. The reenactment gore was over the top and so it was gross, but still palatable. The impaling of the found footage crew and the cannibal rednecks were more realistic and not as palatable. There was gore, it was gross, moving on.

I really appreciated Kathy Bates’s character. She was just so pitiful and at the same time aggravating and misguided as hell. I wanted to give her a hug and at the same time tell her to go home and move on with her life.

Other than her, I didn’t really feel for any of the characters. Instead of fretting over the safety of characters I liked, I ended up rooting for certain characters to die (I’m looking at you, Sidney). This was problematic because a lot of the driving force was supposed to be an attachment to main characters, especially Lee, and it just wasn’t there.

I was disappointed that the “real” ghosts didn’t have much screen time, but I suppose they never really do. Something that really irritated me was that Shelby seemed to know a lot more about the situation than she let on. She and Matt never fully explained how they got out of the house the first time. The ghost of Edward, the plantation owner, supposedly helped them escape so why was he so malevolent the second time around? What gives? It was a loose end that was never tied up and is the most frustrating aspect of this season.

I had high expectations for this season. It really should have been better or at least on par with Murder House, but it caved in on itself with an overabundance of unnecessary plot. Boo.

3/5 stars

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