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Life imitates grisly reality TV in one of television's edgiest and most acclaimed shows ever! Told in gripping true-crime documentary style, "My Roanoke Nightmare" - this season's show within the show - chronicles shocking paranormal events.
Hoping to begin a peaceful new life in a rustic North Carolina farmhouse, Shelby and Matt Miller (Emmy winner Sara Paulson and Oscar winner Cuba Gooding Jr.) flee Los Angeles, only to find murder, mayhem and madness!
From a girl ghost to a swine monster to murderous nurse sisters to a sadistic cult leader known as "The Butcher" (Oscar winner Kathy Bates), the couple's home is filled with nonstop terrors.
I had seen every one of the American Horror Story series and would absolutely count myself as a fan, so when I was given the opportunity to review "American Horror Story: Roanoke" I was looking forward to watching the entire ten episodes in one go. Not that I am into binge watching because I don't usually get the chance, but this was too good to miss.
From the start, I realised that this series was quite different from the others I was familiar with. Some of the cast members were the same, so it was reassuring to find that Sarah Paulson and Kathy Bates were both featured, but there were also several actors new to the series. The format was innovative, using the technique of a reality show and a system of double casting which meant that each character was played by two different actors who shared some basic similarities in appearance.
The series is actually organised into two five-episode sections. The first set, entitled "My Roanoke Nightmare", follows the fate of three people (Shelby and Matt Miller, and Matt's sister Lee Harris). It is set in a TV studio, where the "real" Shelby, Matt and Lee tell their story which is then re-enacted by three actors playing them; the second set, "Return to Roanoke: Three Days In Hell" brings the "real" three and their actor doubles together into an exploration of the scene of the original events. The second set also introduces three new characters - fans of the first Roanoke set who want to shoot something controversial about the location so that they can boost traffic on their website.
Many of the narrative and visual effects used throughout the series are reminiscent of those first used in films like "Natural Born Killers" and, later, "The Blair Witch Project". The media in both "Natural Born Killers" and "American Horror Story: Roanoke" promotes a particular brand of violence in order to lure viewers. The violence is packaged and marketed by the episode in order to keep viewers coming back for more.
"The Blair Witch Project", like "American Horror Story: Roanoke", features young people who have come to a particular forested area in order to document an urban myth. The visual style, however, is much smoother than that of "The Blair Witch Project" which was filmed entirely on hand-held camcorders. This made it quite challenging to watch.
In terms of originality, this series is a winner. The concept design from start to finish is amazing. Although it is a horror film with plenty of R18 gory sequences and other tasty offerings, with a good helping of scary special effects thrown in, there is an underlying thread of black humour which ensures that the story does not take itself too seriously. People are killed and then pop up again large as life, and actually analyse their own demise like an action replay!
I watched the entire series with a group of friends and they were all as riveted as I was. The acting was stunning: I would like to say that Kathy Bates was head and shoulders above the rest of the cast, but she wasn't - this is one film where there were no stars that stood out; the result was a cohesive presentation from every last person involved. I would love to see a future series of American Horror Story follow the same format. It is wonderful to see that the film industry is secure enough to be able to laugh at itself!
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