Short Review – American Horror Story (Roanoke) 1×01: Chapter 1

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Chapter 1 (reviewed) :

Storyline: 8.2/10

‘Chapter 1′ of American Horror Story: Roanoke wasn’t difficult to follow. We knew where the writers of the show were heading to: a spooky house. The story itself is quite similar to that of ‘Murder House’. A couple buys an haunted house. (In this case, they buy a farmhouse.)  They soon find out that there’s something wrong with the house. Again, the female lead is the ‘smarter’ character, though the male lead is more likable than McDermott’s character in the first season. The story is definitely interesting and the pace is excellent. Those 40 minutes passed by like a train. The storyline is somewhat predictable and cliché, but it wasn’t annoying. A lot happened during the first episode, so I’m eager to find out how things will work out during the following episodes. 

I’m not a big fan of the way of storytelling this season. I think it would have been better if they left it out and only focused on the story itself. Perhaps I will change my opinion in the future regarding this matter. 

Acting: 7.8/10

Angela Bassett’s ‘Lee’ was the star of ‘Chapter 1′. Her character’s backstory was rather short, but her character made a lasting impression on me. I like her fearless attitude and her sassy lines. Lee made me think a bit of ‘Marie Laveau’ (Coven), which is, of course, a good thing. Sarah Paulson is a good actress and her characters are often likable. I don’t know why but she got a bit annoying at times in ‘Chapter 1′. Her character is predictable and Paulson overacts during the scary moments. It wasn’t her best acting performance. Cuba Gooding Jr. was quite all right. He didn’t outshine, but there’s anything bad I can say about him. He’s a good actor and he proves that again in the pilot. I am glad that Lily Rabe has gotten a bigger role this season. Even if her acting range was very limited in the pilot (she plays an interviewee), you could genuinely feel the character. Lily Rabe was, along with Angela Bassett, the best thing about ‘Chapter 1’. 

Character building: 6.3/10

These aren’t the best written characters. Shelby and Matt are both (annoyingly) predictable. Shelby’s reactions didn’t exactly make much sense (e.g: driving away alone). Her character feels quite flat, but I see room for improvement. On the other hand, Lee is definitely the stronger character. Her past makes her vulnerable and also interesting. I’m sure she’ll be haunted by it during the next episodes and I look forward to see how it plays out. Murphy can do a lot of things with Lee’s character and I’m certain that Bassett will make the best of it. Bates’s character didn’t have a lot of screen time, so I won’t judge her already. She already seems very scary.. So there’s a lot of potential for her as well. As for now, Lee is the better character with whom we can identify with. Shelby and Matt feel flat and are not so interesting at all. 

Suspense / Horror: 8.5/10

We’re used to more extravagant scenes in American Horror Story. Just think of ‘Hotel’ with those over the top horrifying moments. To be honest, I wasn’t a fan of those scenes. Murphy chooses for a different direction in ‘Roanoke’: a more sober style of horror. Even if  the scenes were cliché, they were genuinely scary sometimes. Scary moments worth mentioning: Shelby in the hot tub and being drowned by strangers, Lee and Shelby going inside the basement, Kathy Bates’ character suddenly being hit by Shelby’s car and the ending scene. The teeth falling from the sky was refreshing too. I prefer Murphy’s new soberer style any day. The soundtrack was perfectly haunting. 

Conclusion: 77% 

American Horror Story: Roanoke has a lot of potential. The storyline is easy to follow and the scary moments aren’t over the top (a mistake that was made in the past season). Shelby and Matt aren’t the most interesting and intelligent characters, but there’s always room for improvement. The storytelling isn’t exactly my piece of cake, but it didn’t annoy me. Bassett’s Lee is the most interesting character so far. Kathy Bates’ character didn’t appear much, but her look scared the hell out of me. The pacing during the episode was excellent. It didn’t drag on and immediately set things into motion. The theme is definitely interesting. The set only adds up to the creepiness. I’m in for more. 

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