American Horror Story: Roanoke

Well, we finally finished watching the sixth season of American Horror Story. As you may know, this season paid tribute to one of the great mysteries of the North American continent: what happened to that first colony in Roanoke, North Carolina?

So, despite the fact that they have decided to invent a solution to a really great (and sad/disturbing) real-world event out of whole-cloth, the show-runners did manage to pull it off rather well.
The show opens as one of those paranormal dramatic-recreation type shows, My Roanoke Nightmare, telling the tale of Matt and Shelby, who buy a house in the middle of nowhere in North Carolina.

Predictably, supernatural calamity ensues as they learn the history of the area, house, and the lost Roanoke colony.

I especially enjoyed Leslie Jordan’s portrayal as the Psychic who attempts to help.

Ghosts, spirits, demons, history… all of it comes into play as the real Matt and Shelby are interviewed as the “fake” Matt and Shelby act out their testimony in dramatic fashion for the viewing audience.

Then, just as we reach the mid-point of the season, the show-within-a-show ends, and we are now treated to a second “show,” in which the producer of the unexpected hit, My Roanoke Nightmare, conceives a new reality show, this time sending both the cast and the real people back to the house and broadcasting the resulting catastrophe: Return to Roanoke: Three Days in Hell.

Because if there’s one thing this guy knows, it’s that an interpersonal-relations shit-storm will really bring in the viewers.

We get to see everything that happens in and around the ridiculously over-monitored house, grounds, and production truck, as the Blood Moon rises again and the spirits of those earliest settlers return to exact their blood tribute once more.

Throw in the requisite backwoods, redneck, drug-dealing locals, and you’ve got yourself a show!

Overall, I enjoyed the first “show” better than the second, but Return to Roanoke was fine.

What bothered me about the show is that, through 9 episodes, the entirety of the narrative was told through this kind of found-footage, interview-base, re-creation based storytelling.

But the last episode, in which the by-now-inevitable ending is upon us, they deviate from the formula completely, providing us views of the characters and property from non-existent angles.

Similar to the problem I had with the horrible found-footage film, The Pyramid (2014), the final episode takes the central stylistic point of the show and abandons it completely, without explaining why.

I enjoyed Roanoke more than I did AHS: Hotel, but make no mistake, it is not without its shortcomings.

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