At last! American Horror Story, Ryan Murphy’s infamous anthology, returns. In a series that has been getting increasingly worse, since season three, a ninth season missing much of the core cast –including mainstays Sarah Paulson and Even Peters –seems like a hard sell. Is it possible that it can break from the downwards spiral American Horror Story has been heading down for years?
When I first heard that this season, subtitled 1984, would be focusing on the classic slasher movies, I was intrigued and (cautiously) excited. The first episode did not disappoint, with elements taken straight out of I Know What You Did Last Summer, Sleepaway Camp and Friday The 13th establishing the tone, characters, and storyline. It focuses on a group of young people going to work as camp counsellors at the newly reopening Camp Redwood – the site of the largest campsite massacre in American history.
A highlight of the season is the new theme song, a reworking of the theme that has stayed consistent since season one. A synth-filled 80’s take on the disturbing song is refreshing and fun, something that will surely be popular in the current Stranger Things and nostalgia-filled mediascape. Billie Lourd’s Montana also stands out as a hilarious character. Her deadpan delivery of insane lines somewhat reminiscent of her Booksmart and Scream Queens characters. Emma Roberts’ Brooke serves as a refreshing role for the AHS mainstay, who has often played crueller characters in the series, and here she plays the final girl stereotype well. As a former Glee fan, it was certainly interesting to see Matthew Morrison’s role in the show, though I will not give too much away on that (it has to be seen to be believed, trust me).
With an explosive opening scene, ripe with sex and murder, and featuring a depiction of real-life serial killer Richard Ramirez (Zach Villa), the show, as always, is not shying away from controversial topics. However, much of the episode feels like something we have seen before. This is obvious, coming from an homage to classic horror. In previous instalments, American Horror Story has always managed to create fresh, exciting takes on classics. It is important to remember that this is only the first episode and there is much more twisted, frightening goodness to come. But with an ensemble of pretty ordinary characters and a plot that feels like it has been done many times, it seems there is little hope for a return to the glory days of American Horror Story. But Murphy’s series has always been known to shock, so I am completely ready to be proven wrong by whatever plot twists that will inevitably be thrown at viewers by the TV mastermind.