The sixth season of the much-buzzed American Horror Story was shrouded in secrecy ahead of its premiere in 2016. Following the disappointing fifth outing Hotel, the sixth season revealed nothing at all leaving viewers in the dark when it debuted. In many ways it was a smart move because no expectations were set and many viewers felt a little disillusioned with the franchise after Hotel. Revealed to be called Roanoake, American Horror Story got back to basics for its sixth season offering up plenty of scares and a darker tone not seen since season 2 Asylum.
American Horror Story: Roanoke really changed up the show’s formula giving viewers a show within a show. Told as a faux documentary titled My Roanoke Nightmare, the series shifts between a fictionalised retelling of the story of a couple who moved into a haunted house and the actual people who were involved in the ‘true life’ story. The complete change of approach caught viewers off guard and I have to say it’s the most invested I’ve been in the show for years having become increasingly disappointed following Coven.
For Roanoke a number of actors from the previous seasons returned including Sarah Paulson, Evan Peters, Kathy Bates, Angela Bassett, Lily Rabe, Denis O’Hare, Cheyenne Jackson and a small role for Lady Gaga. New cast members include Cuba Gooding Jr (The People V OJ Simpson: American Crime Story), Adina Porter (True Blood) and Andre Holland (The Knick). For the first time since the second season, American Horror Story actually served all of its actors rather than stunt casting a swollen cast that gets very little to do.
What works so well about Roanoake is the completely unexpected nature of it. The season combines the show’s uncomfortable imagery and violence with a decent storyline that keeps you hooked. Just when you think you’ve got a handle on the season, things get turned completely on their hand and it’s actually very, very clever. I won’t go into any more detail as to give that part away would be to ruin the fun of the season.
As always Sarah Paulson is fantastic in her dual role as Shelby Miller, the character she plays in My Roanoke Nightmare, and Audrey Tindall, the actress she portrays who plays Shelby. Most of the actors in the show have dual roles this time around, which can get a little confusing, but they all do a great job. A particular standout is Adina Porter as Lee Harris, one of the real-life people that the faux documentary focuses on.
Special features on the DVD release include a Paley Center featurette and a series of promos for the season.
American Horror Story is seriously back on form after several iffy seasons. I would go so far as to say that Roanoke is one of the best seasons of the show so far and in contention for second place behind the excellent Asylum. It’s always hard to review American Horror Story without giving too much away because part of the show’s charm is that it does the opposite of what you expect most of the time. If you want to be creeped out and scared, American Horror Story: Roanoke will definitely do both of those.
Cast: Sarah Paulson, Kathy Bates, Evan Peters, Angela Bassett, Lily Rabe, Adina Porter, Cuba Gooding Jr., Andre Holland, Denis O’Hare, Cheyenne Jackson, Lady Gaga Certificate: 18 Duration: 398 mins Released By: 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment Release Date: 11th September 2017