I do a lot of my writing on my iPad. It might come off as very millennial of me, but if I don’t have purpose, then I’m not going to turn on my laptop. Tonight, I left it charging on my nightstand and found myself making sure every light was on as I made my way upstairs. Luckily, I didn’t have to pass any mirrors or any reflective surfaces that might even hint at a shadowy figure behind me. My stairs do creak a little, but I made sure the TV in the living room downstairs had the volume turned up a bit to avoid any sudden noises that might make me jump. These are thoughts and anxieties running through my head after watching the second episode of AMERICAN HORROR STORY: ROANOKE. Yes, AHS fans, we have an official title and theme after what felt like forever and the confirmation is more than welcomed. Marketed as “a true American horror story,” the blurred lines between historical fact and the Ryan Murphy universe has created a startling new storyline that thrives on tension and blood soaked subplots.
Shelby ended last week’s episode by stumbling onto some kind of ritual where she was not welcomed. She makes it out alive, but the authorities don’t believe her. Matt witnesses two nurses shoot an elderly patient right inside his home, but all evidence disappears when the cops get involved. Lee has her young daughter, Flora, visit and she quickly makes a new friend, one that no one else can see. There are a couple moments of Lee finding Flora in dark spaces where she is apparently interrupting bonding moments with an unseen child who wears funny clothes. At one point, a trade was about to occur where the exchange involves sparing the lives of our living characters.
Both Shelby and Matt spot a mysterious figure standing out in the field, but upon further inspection, discover a cellar where an informative videotape is found. The footage exposes an academic named Dr. Cunningham, paying homage to my beloved found footage sub-genre. Dr. Cunningham was writing his “Helter Skelter” like project, investigating two sisters who took careers as nurses who quite possibly killer their patients. Not only that, they opened their very own facility there in Shelby and Matt’s home. When cops were sent in to investigate suspicious behavior, the sisters were nowhere to be found, leaving behind the corpses of their elderly patients. Cunningham experiences his own paranormal phenomenon on camera and our leading couple realize how completely screwed they are with their property.
I was once again completely surprised by AHS as this episode continued with its new emphasis on being a genuinely scary show. The nurse’s backstory brought back memories of the history of “Murder House”, adding some nostalgia for long term fans and added some gore factor for those missing the shock factor of previous seasons. Early on in the episode, we got quick glimpses of the rest of the Roanoke clan which gave Wes Bentley and Lady Gaga cameos and reminders to the audience that they will be turning. I’m realizing the whole “My Roanoke Nightmare” set up is fitting for the season as the shows its parodying are questionable themselves as to how real their stories really are. Although we are aware of what we are watching is completely fictional, mixing in the still mysterious Roanoke legend creates a much more engaging experience. Going online after last week’s premiere, I cam across multiple articles investigating “the real Roanoke” for those unfamiliar. I’m loving it though and based on the ratings from the season premiere, the gimmick is working and I hope the scares keep up.
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