When it comes to “American Horror Story” I’m learning that the show is going to be either hit or miss. I’ll be the first to admit that because of my disappointments in the ending of “Freak Show” I had given up hope on the series that I had once loved. However, that has changed since I had the chance to binge watch last season’s, “My Roanoke Nightmare.” As someone who loves unsolved mysteries, I was well aware of the lost colony of Roanoke, so I was looking forward to seeing how Ryan Murphy and the gang would bring this story to life.
“My Roanoke Nightmare” is unlike any other season prior, in that it is a show within a show. For the first half of the season the show plays out as if it was an episode of the Lifetime series, “My Haunted House”. Shelby (Sarah Paulson) and Matt Miller (Cuba Gooding Jr.) flee their idyllic life in Los Angeles after a violent attack leaves Matt in the hospital. Hoping for a fresh start, they move to North Carolina and purchase a beautiful home on Roanoke Island. Soon after they move in, frightening paranormal events begins to happen on the land and inside the house at the hands of the early colonists and the deranged “ Butcher” (Kathy Bates). Real life Shelby (Lily Rabe) and Matt (André Holland) recount their story with horror and sadness, drawing the viewer in as each component of their tale unfolds.
The second portion of the season takes viewers back to the infamous house in “Return to Roanoke: Three Days in Hell”. The production company responsible for “My Roanoke Nightmare” places the reenactors with their actual counterparts who they portrayed in the ominous house during the Blood Moon, in hopes that this follow-up will bring even more ratings, resulting in much more money for the studio (and those who work there). However, we learn through a series of found footage tapes, that not everything goes as planned and the truth of this home, and it’s surrounding land, holds a deadly history with murderous consequences to all those who step foot there.
As with most season’s of “American Horror Story” the acting was one again superb. Having just watched Cuba Gooding Jr. in Ryan Murphy’s other acclaimed show “American Crime Story: O.J. Simpson” I enjoyed seeing him face pop up in “My Roanoke Nightmare”. However, the real star of the show was Adina Porter who played Lee Harris, the sister of Matt Miller. Her depiction of a woman on the brink of losing everything was believable and heart-wrenching and I found myself relating to certain aspects of her character’s life. I have been a fan of Porter since her time on “True Blood” and though I haven’t yet had a chance to watch the newest season of “American Horror Story: Cult”, which Porter has a re-occuring role, I believe that she has found herself a new home within the horror genre.
As for the flow of the story, and the folklore surrounding Roanoke, I found myself captivated from the first episode to the very end. I liked that Murphy tried something new with this season by giving viewers more of a “reality show” feel then switching everything up half way through to a more found-footage narrative. To me, this allowed the show to stay fresh and interesting resulting in an overall cohesive story that came full circle. I also enjoyed seeing aspects from how Roanoke came about interspersed throughout the season so that we could have a better understanding of who the Butcher was and why she was doing what she was doing. My only critique with this would be that I think maybe there were too many characters at play which could make the story confusing to those who are not familiar with the legend of the lost colony of Roanoke. I think dialing back on all the characters and focusing more on the most important ones would have been a bit more beneficial to the overall storyline.
All in all, I thoroughly enjoyed “American Horror Story: My Roanoke Nightmare.” I loved the creativity that Ryan Murphy used to throw viewers off as well as the superb acting from all those involved. Though I still think the show needs to work on not using so many characters as well as tightening up specific characters storylines, that didn’t deter me from believing that “My Roanoke Nightmare” is one of Murphy’s strongest seasons to date. With that said, I look forward to seeing what he brings to the table in the newest season and can only hope it’s just as effective as Roanoke was.
“American Horror Story: My Roanoke Nightmare” is available to own on Blu-ray and DVD.