After weeks of suffering through its frustratingly (and purposefully) ambiguous marketing campaign, American Horror Story finally revealed its Season 6 theme during Wednesday night's premiere — and My Roanoke Nightmare (if that's even the official title) is the FX anthology's most ambitious installment yet. This season, AHS is tackling the documentary format, and its subject is the Lost Colony of Roanoke.
The premiere episode ("Chapter One") played out like an hour of Nightmare Next Door on ID Discovery, complete with dramatic reenactments and a good old-fashioned haunting. Framed as being part of an apparent documentary called My Roanoke Nightmare, the first episode reenacted the unsettling story of a real-life couple, Shelby and Matt (played by Lily Rabe and Andre Holland), who move into a dilapidated farmhouse in the middle of nowhere and are promptly haunted by Roanoke settlers or terrorized by a group of racist townsfolk, or ... something.
Pieced together by interviews with Rabe and Holland and dramatizations starring "actors" played by Sarah Paulson (as Rabe) and Cuba Gooding Jr. (as Holland) in the reenactment, My Roanoke Nightmare plays like a true-crime story that's heavy on drama and light on actual scares. But the occasional unexplained event does happen — like teeth raining from the sky and an assemblage of hanging corn-husk puppets straight out of The Blair Witch Project.
While it's still unclear whether the sixth season of American Horror Story will reenact different true crime stories with entirely new casts throughout the season or stick to the same narrative, given the documentary format, it's honestly only a matter of time before Billie Dean Howard makes an appearance.
We've had dozens of teasers and creepy posters to keep us guessing, and yet, most of those were all artfully crafted lies. There's still not a whole lot out there about the season, but here's what we do know: My Roanoke Nightmare is far less opulent than its predecessors. It's rogue. It's dark. It's genuinely spooky! This is AHS going back to basics; it's Scary Movies 101, all cleverly placed music cues, camera tricks, and screams.
That being said, we still have so many questions. Murphy said that "elements of children" will somehow be involved in the sixth season — but children were absent from the premiere (except for the child Shelby and Matt lost after a traumatic miscarriage). "If you look at horror tropes, the innocence of children, that sort of wide-eyed entryway into some world is always very dramatic and satisfying," he told reporters back in March. OK ... but where are the kids?
Looks like it's time to put on our tinfoil hats and start theorizing.