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HD Report | July 25, 2017

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American Horror Story Off To Shaky But Promising Start

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Mackenzie Walsh
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Image: FX Networks

So last night we finally learned the theme of this season of American Horror Story. As some of the pictures from the set speculated earlier this year, we’re going to be in for a season based on the unexplainable disappearance of the Roanoke colony in North Carolina. This is after a long series of “foilers” that were frustratingly and effectively made to keep people guessing about the theme this year.

In this new season, we are introduced to the characters of Shelby and Matt Miller documenting their experience with gang initiation, America’s Most Wanted style. We are then introduced to a big scary farmhouse and a lot of spooky happenings, much like season one of AHS. Murphy then sets the stage for a different type of haunted house—less homicidal depressive teenagers, and more pitchfork and torched old-timer types slowly invading the house.

Throughout the episode, I found myself missing the slow burn of some of the previous seasons, where from the very first episode AHS was as much about the stellar characters (Jessica Lange will be sorely missed in this one), as the jump scares and creaking floors. With the immediate introduction of all these cheap scares, this episode came off less terrifying and more laughable. Everything seemed rather rushed to get past the horror of the house into what is later going to be the real theme, that of the lost colony of Roanoke.

Despite this, it was great to see what all the show regulars would be up to this season, from Lily Rabe and Sarah Paulson playing the yoga instructor Shelby, and Idina Porter (who had a guest role in season one) and Angela Basset playing Shelby’s ex-cop, ex-prescription pill abusing sister in law. We also got to see a glimpse of Kathy Bates as the yet unnamed original owner of the farm, Dennis O’Hare as the terrified previous farm owner, and did anyone see the peak of Wes Bentley as one of the home-invading settlers?

While all and all this season has been set up to be another thrilling adventure, the documentary style format is… different. Murphy always tries to challenge himself and bring something new and crazy to each season, but this new experience ends up being all too jarring, and not in a good way. Just as you are getting into the narrative of the story, it keeps on breaking away from all the built up tension and suspense, to these two completely different actors in a calm, professional setting.

Despite the letdown the first episode seemed to be, nothing (besides maybe Jessica Lange) is perfect and I am looking forward to seeing where this season will take us, because judging by the fast pace of the first episode, we won’t just be sticking with the house.

What did you think of the first episode? Let us know in the comments below!

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