American Horror Story has always juggled a myriad of ambitious elements of horror, but AHS 1984 might be the perfect way to return to a more traditional facet of the genre.
AHS is a series that always begins with something more straightforward, but as each season progresses there is more than meets the eye. For example, Asylum utilized a serial killer, aliens, Nazis and spirituality which made for an excellent season, but sometimes tackling too much can hinder the follow through of one particular narrative. After a phenomenal crossover season like Apocalypse, many wondered what could follow and AHS1984 seems like it will solely focus on a vintage slasher setting, horror strongest sub-genre.
In the first episode, the homages to 1980’s culture and horror movies of that time are overtly present, such as the Friday the 13th backdrop of a summer camp. There are other obvious choices including wardrobe, hair and the growing popularity of aerobics, but it’s not the 80’s that make AHS worthwhile, it’s the direct nature of the season so far.
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From the first few minutes, we’re given a backstory, a serial killer named Mr. Jingles and the location where we can expect the bloodbath to begin. This series of events quickly sets up AHS 1984 and gives us more time to focus on characters and the brutality aspect of the season in a much more focused approach. We already experienced one chase scene that welcomes the campy pieces of 80’s horror as well as a (brief) fight scene against Richard Ramirez who isn’t even our main antagonist. If this suggests anything to us, it’s that the camp is essentially a serial killer’s playground and we’re fully prepared for the carnage that will follow in the coming weeks.
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We’re also introduced to a group of camp counselors that are currently believed to be our main cast, each of them with their own specific quirks in traditional AHS style. For the protagonist, we have our new AHS leading lady Emma Roberts portraying Brooke, a soft-spoken aspiring veterinary technician who has recently relocated to Los Angeles. Brooke meets a new group of friends played by Billie Lourd, Cody Fern, Gus Kenworthy, and DeRon Horton who become her first real ‘friends’ since her relocation.
Almost instantly, Roberts’ character Brooke shows major changes from other AHS characters she’s played before, becoming a character that’s liked for her kindness as opposed to her hilariously blunt and sharp-tongued personality. Brooke shows compassion for an injured stranger, she has an obvious struggle with solitude and when necessary she is able to combat an attacker like an underestimated badass.
These traits all surface within one episode, so Brooke will certainly be a strong final girl contender in the series and has a chance at becoming an iconic survivor in the slasher/horror genre. From a first impression of the season, this will spotlight Robert’s versatility as an actor and so far we love the vulnerability she brings to Brooke after just one chapter of a larger story.
In addition to Camp Redwood counselors, we have the owner Margaret Booth who was the survivor of Mr. Jingles initial massacre in 1970. The scene explaining her backstory sets up Margaret (Leslie Grossman) as a character who’s grounded by faith. During the murders, she believed that she experienced divine intervention, somehow remaining silent while having her ear cut off.
After pretending to be dead and being granted the serenity to remain calm in that moment, her beliefs were seemingly validated by an act of God himself. The scene showed that AHS can still deliver emotional material with wit, and establishes a history that really feeds into the darkness associated with Mr. Jingles. While there are theories that the true threat isn’t Mr. Jingles, as long as it stays within the slasher realm there is promise for AHS 1984 to be one powerful standout season thriving in mystery.
For being only one episode into AHS 1984, this crafts a surprisingly fresh take on a series that’s been around for almost 10 seasons which is no easy feat. Time will tell how the rest of the season is handled or if it follows this structure, but regardless it’s off to a strong start and we’re excited to be along for the bloody ride.
American Horror Story: 1984 airs Wednesdays on FX, so check out the premiere episode before next week and let us know your thoughts on the new season below!