American Horror Story: Roanoke

Starring: Sarah Paulson, Cuba Gooding Jr., Kathy Bates, Lily Rabe, Andre Holland, Denis O'Hare, Evan Peters, Wes Bentley, Cheyenne Jackson, Angela Bassett, Lady Gaga, Adina Porter, Finn Wittrock, Matt Bomer, Leslie Jordan, Jacob Artist
Writer: Ryan Murphy, Brad Fulchuk
Rating: *****

Air Date: September 16, 2016 at 10pm (Fox)  

*DISCLAIMER* as per the title of the blog, you can expect spoilers in this review.

Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk have achieved something that is next to impossible in Hollywood, and that is to keep a secret. For months (probably longer) fans of the AHS series have been relentlessly attempting to discover what season 6 was going to be about. Some got close, and some were nowhere near; but most importantly was actually correct. The last few weeks have been packed with fake teasers to throw us off the sent, and now that it is finally revealed; I can't wait to discover more about American Horror Story: Roanoke. 

Sarah Paulson & Cuba Gooding Jr.
The series is set up like a true-crime documentary following a couple, Shelby and Matt (Rabe & Holland), as they describe their ordeal to the camera. As with these sorts of documentaries, things they say are then re-enacted; and the re-enactment actors are Sarah Paulson and Cuba Gooding Jr.. A documentary can only dream to nab those two for such a job. As they narrate what happened to them, from losing a baby to moving into an abandoned mansion in the woods, everything is shown physically by Gooding Jr. and Paulson; this gives you a split focus almost throughout the episode. 

Things take a dark turn soon after moving, of course, with Shelby being taunted by a group of hooded figures with torches, and being locked in a basement with her sister-in-law; who in the re-enactment is portrayed by Bassett. Things get too much for her so she leaves the house and drives away, not before bumping, quite literally, into a dirty colonial woman (our first glimpse of Kathy Bates). She follows her into the woods and there finds a tribe of people, who I assume are the lost villagers of Roanoke.

I will admit the after about five minutes, I thought I was gonna hate this series. I couldn't quite get into the documentary style, there was no infamous opening title, and it was just so different from anything being done on TV, especially AHS itself. Then five minutes later, and I was hooked. I jumped, I covered my ears and then it ended and I just wanted more. What Murphy and Falchuk have done is turned the show on its head and completely revitalised it.

Kathy Bates
What also makes this show so watchable is the returning players. Rabe, Paulson and Bassett are comfortable with the writing given to them, and they instantly embody their new characters from their very first line of dialogue. Paulson is perfection as the actress portraying Shelby's story and brings her all to the fear and terror she is experiencing. Rabe stands out though, because she must tell her story and fill it with emotion whilst being very limited on what she can do. Being an interviewee means she must dig deep and show her grief through her face and words mainly, and she does whilst remaining grounded and human.

Cuba Gooding Jr. is a brilliant addition to the AHS family, and he actually injected new life and energy into the show, yet felt like he had always been part of the insanity. We have yet to catch up with the rest of the cast, including Evan Peters, Denis O'Hare and last years addition Lady Gaga, nor did Bates get much screen time, but I am sure that Murphy has something wicked cooked up for them.

The season premiere, titled 'Chapter One', is full of everything that AHS fans have grown to love and fear all at the same time; but it feels fresh and different for the first time in a couple of seasons. This new set up blew me away, and as long as the season stays as pitch perfect as the season opener was, we are about to be treated to possibly the best season in American Horror Story history.

Below is a teaser for next weeks episode, so if you havent seen Chaper One yet, I would avoid. 

American Horror Story: Roanoke - Chapter Two Trailer