American Horror Story Roanoke: Chapter 5 – Anthology Within an Anthology? (Review)

Sarah Paulson as Shelby Miller

“Chapter Five” of American Horror Story: My Roanoke Nightmare appears to be a finale of sorts to the Miller story. The rest of the season will presumably stick to the same location but feature a different set of players. Season six is apparently an anthology within in an anthology.

It was, all told, a great wrap-up of events. There were some nods and winks to other works of horror that were appreciated and worth mentioning.

Mama Polk’s “hobbling of Shelby” that was done on only one ankle was straight from Stephen King’s Misery. (The film version though as King’s book, cuts off Sheldon’s foot.)

Another connection, or homage, was to either the ghost woman from  The Grudge or a nod to the Japanese survival horror video game Forbidden Siren aka Siren. Some reviewers have mentioned The Grudge but the figure that grabbed Flora looks an awful lot like a Shibito from the video game.

To-may-to, to-mah-to.

It was somewhat fitting that the cannibalistic family of backwood’s hicks were named Polk. (Anyone growing up in the south, or perhaps the countryside  full stop, will have eaten the leaves of this “weed” substitute for spinach.)

The show’s creators worked in the Mott family, explaining that the last heir died in Florida, “Freak Show” and Evan Peters played the Mott ancestor.  Mott’s story was proof that Dandy, the last of the line, came by his madness via his genes. Clearly madness ran in the family, or at least an inability to interact with other people.

Frances Convoy was splendidly cast as Mama Polk the head of the horrific hillbilly threat who worked hand in hand with The Butcher.  It was also a nice touch to have her appear in the “Mott” episode since she was Dandy’s mother in season four.

In terms of horror there were some excellent bits placed in this “mini” finale.  Cunningham’s face getting bashed in with the ball peen hammer was shocking in its simplicity. The camera only shows the crushed face for a split second but this makes  it more disturbing.

The shooting of the hillbilly driver with the shotgun was executed quite nicely as well. Thomasin and Ambrose first entering and then erupting from the fire was brilliant.

American Horror Story has, this season, deviated from its usual format.  Presumably the remainder of the Roanoke storyline will continue but with a different family and may possibly leave the “Paranormal Witness” template used thus far.

With seasons that only have 10 episodes it will be interesting to see what Murphy and co. fill the second half of season five with. Will it be a continuation of the “recreation” of horrors at the Roanoke house and is this the last we will see of Shelby and Matt?

Regardless of what comes next, the first five episodes were interesting and different while playing outside the usual AHS sandbox.

The series airs Wednesdays on FX. Tune in and see who enters the house next.


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