My Roanoke Nightmare is the answer.
Think true-life ghost story documentary and you’ve got it. I must admit, the first episode left me feeling a little bit let down. It was weird to say the least to see actors from previous AHS seasons playing ‘real’ people and also some other well-known AHS actors playing roles of said ‘real’ people. A TV series within a TV series but nowhere near as complicated as the dream within a dream concept of Inception. A little strange to get your head around at first (or was that just me?). Then there was the episode itself. While it was good, I must say I didn’t enjoy it as much as I thought I would (quite possibly my own fault for getting too excited about it beforehand). It seemed to be lacking in the wicked and sometimes grotesque horror I have come to know and love about AHS.
It started with a bit of back story about the two main characters Shelby (played by the wonderful Lily Rabe) and Matt. Before moving out into the countryside they lived in a bustling city and were happily expecting their first child together. When Matt is savagely attacked by a group of youths who were completing their gang initiation, he ends up in hospital and the ensuing stress takes its toll on the pregnant Shelby and they tragically lose their baby. To get away from the memories and the fear that Shelby constantly lives in, they decide to move somewhere quiet and away from the high crime rates. Finding an old farmhouse in a rural setting up for auction they use their life savings to snap it up – much to the chagrin of locals who were also interested in purchasing the house. And so begins their Roanoke Nightmare.
Settling into a new home for anyone brings with it strange noises in the night. But are the noises in Matt and Shelby’s home the result of ghosts or angry locals? There are a few times in the first episode where you are left guessing which one is responsible for the frights. Perhaps a little bit of both? There is a Blair Witch feel to one part when creepy wooden effigies are strewn around their home but it still lacked in the fear factor stakes.
If the first episode tiptoes quietly through the horror factor, creating some eerie but wholly explainable scenes, the second episode positively jumps in feet first. I was slightly disappointed in the first one but I wasn’t about to give up on a show I love so much and boy am I glad I didn’t. The second episode delved much deeper into the farmhouse’s past and the horrors its four walls had been witness to. Matt’s niece comes to stay with them as her mother has moved in to comfort Shelby and the scenes with the little girl offer some spine-tingling moments. There were times when I wanted to shake the characters for going off alone in the dark to investigate strange noises or to follow the spectre of a woman in the cellar or watching an old video recording of a previous owner who seems downright delirious, but that’s what makes for good viewing. It also introduced the great Kathy Bates as a character who is truly terrifying and who I look forward to seeing more of.
Now I cannot wait for episode 3. I have seen countless true haunting documentaries and AHS have nailed it. So, bring on the scares AHS. I’m ready!