Chapter 6 of American Horror Story: Roanoke – “Return to Roanoke: Three Days in Hell” suddenly turns into a combination of (fill in name of found footage horror film here) and Big Brother with a huge dollop of UnREAL thrown in. The show morphs into a fictional documentary of a real fictional haunting.
Directed by Angela Bassett, the first episode of the second half of season six starts off with a bang and Bassett kills it in the big chair. Clearly the baseline here is Agatha Christie’s “And Then There Were None,” aka “Ten Little Indians,” although it does feel like a melding of several different found footage films.
Sidney is a male version of Quinn King in the world of scary reality television. A cunning producer perfectly willing to throw anyone under the bus if it helps his show. Even the macabre decapitation of a worker on set does not faze him.
One can imagine that the horrible death of Diana Cross, the pig man appears in her car causing it to crash, never slowed him down at all.
A title appears across the screen telling us that all of the participants in the house died, bar one, over the three day period of filming. It also tells us that the show never aired.
We are told that the Paranormal Witness type documentary was a ratings smash even beating AMC’s The Walking Dead in terms of viewers. Producer Sidney is introduced and the audience learns the identity of the players from the show within a show.
The Butcher is stressed out actress; Agnes Mary Winstead, who identifies too much with her character and gets a restraining order from the sequel’s producer. The performer goes off on the deep end which was Sid’s plan all along.
A bit of backstory is delivered and we learn that Shelby had a short fling with “re-creatio Matt” actor Dominic Banks. The wicked weekend resulted in her divorce from Matt.
(In keeping with this year’s theme of some American cast members speaking with faux English accents, Audrey Tindall, aka Sarah Paulson is now an “English” actress. There seems to be some sort of competition between Kathy Bates and Paulson this season with accents.)
This half of American Horror Story : Roanoke is all “reality” TV with a look at the producers creating fake scares to pull in the ratings. It is meant to be train wreck television, with Dominic arriving at the house shortly before “R is for Rory” gets stabbed to death by the two dead nurses.
Matt makes the connection when he finds the word “murder” written on the wall in blood.
One look at the group, even discounting the calmer Matt and Dominic, reveals quite a crew. Lee is an aggressive former junky. Monet, the actress who portrayed Lee is an alcoholic. Shelby is a neurotic mess after the events in the house and her new beau; Rory is a bit…slow.
Agnes (Bates) has indeed turned up at the house and already broken a window. She may well be the next “victim” although as she is not “in” the house obviously so this may not count against the death toll.
The group has been split into two factions. The “real” participants who lived in the house and the skeptical actors who played them. Rory mentions that at no time during filming did ghosts or “people jerky” appear and Matt answers that it was the wrong time of year.
Ironically Rory is the first to die a short time later.
After suppressing an inner groan at the idea of the rest of this season being “found footage” there was sigh of relief when the cameras did not ape Paranormal Activity, or The Blair Witch. This second half may just work after all.
American Horror Story: Roanoke airs Wednesdays on FX. Tune in and see who will follow Rory as the next Roanoke victim. Thus far the body count in this half of the season is three. The unknown decapitated set worker, Diana and “R” is for Rory.