This season of #AmericanHorrorStory has been one of the most insanely grotesque examples of what is acceptable on television to date, and arguably more terrifying than anything the series has done before. On the surface, #Roanoke appears to be a brand new story we have never seen before; however, it's actually a witty mish-mash of horror's most beloved tropes. This is no accident, and that's clear in the number of classic horror Easter Eggs littered throughout. Ryan Murphy has seemingly created a deliberate homage to everything we love about horror — from found footage to the final girl — and used them to craft the most terrifying season of AHS yet.
Major spoilers ahead for American Horror Story Season 6, Episode 9!
The Power of Blood
Blood is an important motivator for many of this season's antagonists. For example, the Blood Moon has been a fixture of impending doom from day one — a bright red symbol of the horrors to come — and the use of blood as sacrifice is a big part of the Butcher's reign of terror.
The sight of blood provokes a primal fear within us, and its mystical properties have been touched on in pop culture and throughout history. Dracula uses blood to sustain his life force, while blood oaths and sacrifices can be found in everything from Indiana Jones to Buffy the Vampire Slayer. The importance of blood in Roanoke is clear; it binds the spirits to the land, and appeases the Gods which reside there.
We all drew connections between the haunted mansions of Season 1 and Season 6. Both were on the market at super-low prices because of the mysterious happenings that occurred within, and both lure hapless city dwellers into their clutches. But of course, AHS is by no means the first.
Ever since The Legend of Hell House and The Amityville Horror terrified book and movie fans in the 1970s, the haunted house has become a fixture of the horror landscape. It's the place one should feel safe, and certainly not somewhere where murderous nurses and piggy-headed men should roam the halls. Having said this, the Roanoke house becomes a symbol of safety for Shelby and Matt — it's where they meet Edward Mott, and where they try to escape the horrors of the forest. However, after the events of Episode 9, I think it's about time they burned it to the ground.
Cannibalism will always be a feature of horror, because nothing says terror like being eaten alive piece-by-piece. Poor Lee had to endure pieces of her flesh being hacked off by the Polks and force-fed to Monique and Audrey. The Polks are the archetypal American cannibals; incestuous hillbillies without an ounce of remorse. From Texas Chainsaw to The Hills Have Eyes, the Polks are familiar to us from their past incarnations in TV and film.
More American Horror Story:
- American Horror Story's Lana Winters: Is She Final Girl To Final Victim?
- Murder House/Coven Crossover: Has 'American Horror Story' Jumped The Shark?
- This Huge Thing That You Might Have Missed About The Real Butcher Changes Everything On 'American Horror Story'
Evil Is Visceral
One of the hardest moments to watch this season was Cricket's torture and death at the hands of Kathy Bates' Butcher. Having your own intestines dragged out of you inch by inch is horror that makes one feel particularly squeamish. Add to this Wes Bentley's similar fate in Episode 9, which is shown from his point of view. In Roanoke, evil is something we can see, touch and can do us harm — the presence of viscera conjures pain and suffering beyond the usual 'cut and go' deaths of Jason and Michael (although, Roanoke also has those in abundance). True evil is one that won't kill you right away.
Run or Die
Roanoke also exhibits some of the more frustrating horror tropes — like why would you return to a cannibal farm? Run blind into the forest and then stop running? Why would you return to Roanoke at all?! But that's beside the point — plenty of horror movies are born from sheer stupidity, which usually cumulates in a fight-or-flight response.
As none of the characters (bar Lee) arm themselves for their return to Roanoke, there is literally nothing they can do but run or die. It's clear moments in Season 6 have been inspired by the #BlairWitchProject — the found-footage perspective, creepy woods and hanging wooden effigies — which is the ultimate 'run or die' movie.
The Final Girl
The final girl is a horror trope we're all familiar with, and AHS have used it in the best way possible. From Episode 6 onwards, we are told that there would be one survivor of the Blood Moon — and in Episode 9 we discovered that it was Lee, who fell under Scathach's spell and brutally helped the Butcher murder Todd and Sophie. Thing is, Lee isn't "the blonde girl in the nightie who finally kills the monster with a machete" (thanks, #Buffy) — she's a powerful and ruthless black woman who murdered her ex-husband, used her sexuality to escape the Polks and fell under Roanoke's devilish spell. All of which begs the question, who's the real monster here?
Sadly, we only have one episode left of Season 6 to try and pick apart Lee's justifications and how those tapes found themselves on TV in the first place. We still have a lot of questions; luckily, #Asylum's Lana Winters is back to help answer them. This season has been a wild ride, and I can't wait to see what comes next.