The meta sixth season of American Horror Story took a new twist on reality television but used this twist to confuse audiences for the first half of the season and then totally change the course of the show for the second half. The first played out as a horrific reenactment of a couple's stay in a haunted house in Roanoke, North Carolina. The story was recapped by the actual residents of the haunted house who had survived the ordeal while actors played out the horrors, though this was not clear at first.
Shelby Miller (Lily Rabe) relates her traumatizing story when her and her husband Matt Miller (André Holland). To play out this horrifying drama is Audrey Tindall (Sarah Paulson) and Dominic Banks (Cuba Gooding Jr.). It gets a bit confusing as the show spins around and some characters are actually actors while others are actually people. After several cliche horror disturbances that are exacerbated by inexplicable and somewhat moronic decisions that put them in harm's way, Matt invites his sister Lee (Adina Porter) who is portrayed by Monet Tumusiime (Angela Bassett) who suffers from alcoholism and substance abuse while trying to maintain custody of her child.
The story has some decent horror series that are overshadowed by the convoluted plot twists that felt more like a gimmick than any enhancement in storytelling. Familiar faces pop up as Kathy Bates place the representation of the villainous Butcher who is revealed to be a crazed, obsessed actress who dives too deep into the character. Wes Bentley, Evan Peters, and Denis O'Hare show up in minor roles that add to the story as all of this appears to be actors used to depict real events.
There was no shortage of gruesome murders especially in the second part, a surprising amount of graphic brutally cruel murders as victims are lined up to be knock down by the spirits that arise during the blood moon. The gimmick was entertaining but felt dragged out over several episodes and a detour to insult and ridicule cliche country people doesn't really add to the story much.
American Horror Story has been hit-or-miss for the last few seasons. I thought Hotel was a change for the better but as with most of these seasons, it felt like it lost its way in the final episodes. This television show is a solid argument for horror to remain in the theaters as a short gut punch that terrifies and lets you leave before it loses its effect. I think that Roanoke lies somewhere at the bottom of the seasons in my opinion. I still like Asylum, Murder House, Hotel Coven, Freakshow, and Roanoke in that order. I wish they would do one about aliens.