Last week, American Horror Story gave us a somewhat confusing premiere, but will the second chapter of My Roanoke Nightmare give us more answers?
At first, I was not sure how the documentary-style would work for a horror series, but now, I could see that it is working very effectively as the commentaries would allow the audience to connect more with the characters in a, sort of, personal level.
“Chapter 2” picks up where the last episode left off where Shelby witnessed the satanic ritual where a man was scalped, then a pig’s head was pulled over his head before being roasted in a fire. Kathy Bates has a new accent here of course, and it is very convincing. The distinct changes from every character they play from each season is very remarkable, and is definitely something that deserves praise.
Shelby, played by the now Emmy-Award Winning Actress Sarah Paulson, decided to not leave the house after thinking that the hillbillies were only trying to scare them away. This is another horror trope, where characters experience the true terror of their own cluelessness on what is really going on. This is, of course, effective because Shelby’s character seems like someone who is ready to fight, although she almost gave up in the previous episode.
Making sure that the plot stays true to its horror motif, a child was brought in the picture when Lee decided to bring her daughter, Flora, to the house for some quality time, and this is also where we meet the typical imaginary friend named Priscilla. The fact that an imaginary friend talks about blood and killing all of them should already be a giveaway that this imaginary friend isn’t imaginary at all. Although overused, the decision of the creators to stick to its horror roots is actually what makes it one of the best horror series on television.
The most creative part of this episode is the burning giant stick doll, like the ones from The Blair Witch Project. Seeing a sort of homage to that film, I think, is sort of a service to those true horror fans. Another scene that I find really captivating was when Lee started sort of hallucinating. I don’t know what it is about pigs and horror, but they just go together very well.
Denis O’Hare also returns to the series as Dr. Elias Cunningham on the videotape that Shelby and Matt found. Dr. Cunningham was a professor who came to investigate the nurses (reoccurring in the visions) at the house in 1997. He explains that the nurses used the house as an assisted living home and would kill old people whose families didn’t want to deal with them anymore, and with names that start with a specific letter.
It was revealed that they killed five patients in a specific order, spray painting the first letter of each of their names on the wall in the house. When Matt peeled off the wallpaper, he finds the word “MURDE.” The professor explains that the two nurses have left the country after killing their first five victims, but were stopped by something more evil before they could finish their plans, which the professor thinks is to kill someone with a name that starts with the letter “R.”
I find this revelation very well thought of, but it also raises a lot of questions. Did Dr. Cunningham die? Is the house supposed to be a trap for spirits who live there, like the Murder House and the Hotel Cortez? Or are these reoccurring visions actually a sort of window/wormhole to the past?
Shelby and Matt are now stuck with the house, because the bank can’t buy the property back, and Lee brings her daughter back for the fear of having her visitation rights revoked. Another problem arises as the episode ends when Shelby, Matt, and Lee realized that Flora was gone, and find her jacket hanging on top of a very high tree.
Overall, I would give the episode a 9.8 out of 10 for its brilliant pacing and extraordinary but subtle creativity. Based on the first two episodes alone, I think this season could arguably be the best AHS season yet.
American Horror Story: Roanoke returns next week for its third episode “Chapter Three.”
You can watch the promo for next week’s episode below:
What do you think of this week’s American Horror Story? Let me know in the comments below!
Header Image: FX.