American Horror Story- “My Roanoke Nightmare” (Fox 2016)- A What I’ve Been Watching Review



Series 6 of another show I have watched every episode of.  I’m drawn to this because, apart from the chills (variable) I very much like the repertory approach of the company of actors who take part in the different set-ups each season.  The show takes a “horror anthology” format which I approve of and throughout the series we have had some fascinating casting (Lady GaGa, Patti Labelle and Adam Levine have all temporarily moved away from the day job).  Some have been there right from the start (including Evan Peters, Lily Rabe and Sarah Paulson) and have enjoyed a wealth of different acting experiences through this one show, whilst some, including Oscar winner Cuba Gooding Jnr and Andre Holland are making their debut in “My Roanoke Nightmare” which has premiered this week both in the US and UK.  The production team of this show must also be the biggest US television employer of out gay actors, producing great roles for Sarah Paulson, Denis O’Hare, Cheyenne Jackson, Matt Bomer and Zachary Quinto.


Paulson, O Hare, Jackson, Bomer and Quinto

This season has been effectively cloaked in mystery with no plot reveals.  I didn’t even know what a Roanoke is to have a nightmare about.  (I’ve since found out it is an island in North Carolina where there was a real-life disappearance of a group of colonists in the sixteenth century.)  Here we have a modern-day haunted house set-up presented in the form of a drama-documentary.


This format allows doubling up of the actors with some playing “talking heads” the “real” protagonists and some portraying them in the television dramatisation.  Thus Lily Rabe (superb in Series 2 “Asylum” when she played a nun) and Sarah Paulson (superb in Series 4 “Freak Show” when she played conjoined twins) both play Shelby, with Rabe being the talking head (the “real” Shelby).  Newcomers Gooding Jnr and Holland play Shelby’s husband Matt and the wonderful Adina Porter (Tara’s mum from “True Blood) and the even more wonderful Angela Bassett (at her most outstanding as the Voodoo Witch Marie Laveau in Series 3 “Coven” where she joined the show) as Matt’s sister, ex-cop Lee.

Paulson and Gooding Jnr, Angela Bassett and Lily Rabe

The thing about “American Horror” is that it is impossible to predict where it is going to go, so this format may very well be abandoned in future episodes.  What we do know is that Lady GaGa is rejoining the cast and now series regulars Kathy Bates, Denis O’Hare, Evan Peters, Cheyenne Jackson, Matt Bomer and Finn Wittrock will be around (they may have already appeared- sometimes it is hard to see through the disguises) and Jacob Artist who lit up the latter episodes of writer Ryan Murphy’s other mega-hit “Glee” is also making his “American Horror” debut.  I cannot wait to see what Evan Peters is playing as he has been excellent in each of the stories.


A montage of Evan Peters’ roles

There were a few jumpy moments in the first episode and a hailstorm of human teeth but I don’t feel it has yet managed to establish an original identity (probably because the premise of a couple moving into a new house was reminiscent of Series 1 “Murder House” and the ghostly corridor wandering of Series 5 “Hotel”).  I do have confidence in writers Murphy and Brian Falchuk in coming up with the goods in this series which has scooped many US TV awards (and has given the now-departed Jessica Lange some of her best roles in her career) yet is a little tucked away on the Fox Channel here in the UK.  It will have to go some to eclipse my favourite of the anthologies (Series 4- Freakshow) and will have to ramp up the horror to be more disturbing than Series 2 (Asylum) but confident writing and an exciting, dynamic and good-looking cast there’s heaps of potential.


American Horror Story “My Roanoke Nightmare” is broadcast in the UK on Fox at Friday nights at 10.00 pm.  Episode 1 was shown on 16/09/16 and is available on Sky catch-up channels.


8 thoughts on “American Horror Story- “My Roanoke Nightmare” (Fox 2016)- A What I’ve Been Watching Review

  1. Kay Carter

    Ooh. You’re brave. I can’t watch anything like this anymore. As a teenager I used to spend the weekend at my nans and Friday nights I stayed up late to watch the old Hammer horror movies in glorious black and white, in the dark. I loved them. One I remember The Skull. Scared me so much I slept in the armchair, let nan think I fell asleep watching the film. And some of the Tales of the unexpected, not exactly horror, but messed with your head for a while. I even went with my friend and her mum to an all night showing of horror movies. The old black and white films, Dracula et al. In between films they showed cartoons. Pauline’s mum was well prepare with a flask of coffee and a tupperware box of sandwiches and cake. But I just can’t watch anymore. Love Dennis O’Hare though, I’ve seen him on Law and Order. Need to ask. Do you hide behind a cushion? I used to.


    1. The second series was set in an asylum where people where incarcerated for little reason and it was governed by cruel nuns (Jessica Lange – marvellous) and there were doctors experimenting on the patients – now I did find that scary. There’s something reassuring however about them using the same group of actors- it seems to make it less scary because you recognise them from other roles they have played. I’m not often that scared by film/TV. As a child I remember an old film with I think Barbara Stanwyck and a man who was supposed to have been burnt in a fire who tapped, tapped up the stairs at night with a walking stick. I don’t know what it was called and I’ve never seen it since but it scared the living daylights out of me. As did “The Birds” which when you see it now isn’t that convincing- but is making the goosebumps stand up on back of my neck just thinking about it.


  2. Kay Carter

    I saw The Birds when I stayed at my nans. It was on one Sunday evening and we only had it on because she liked Rod Taylor. (What was she like?) I slept with the light on for a few nights because all I could see was the man sitting on the floor with his eyes pecked out. (Nan covered the budgie cage while the film was on.) One film I remember had Stephanie Powers in and involved a pair of scissors being used to stab someone. Had much respect for pinking shears ever since.


    1. The bit from The Birds that has always got me is the gathering of the crows (?) on the climbing frame in the school playground waiting for the children to come out from school. That is one of the most terrifying moments of films for me – I think the scene starts off with just one bird on the frame and then others start joining it………………….I love that your nan covered the budgie cage whilst the film was on!!


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