ByStephen Patterson, writer at
Verified writer at Movie Pilot. Follow me on twitter: @mr_sjpatterson
Stephen Patterson

Warning: This article contains spoilers from American Horror Story: Roanoke.

American Horror Story has taken a completely different approach for its sixth season, focusing on the production of two fictional reality series about a couple's experience during their stay at the haunted Roanoke farmhouse. The darker tone of has been commended and the reality aspect has made the frights seem a lot more realistic.

With the frightening culmination of My Roanoke Nightmare, we found ourselves watching producer Sidney Aaron James come up with a sequel series entitled Return To Roanoke: Three Days In Hell. This time around, the re-enactors from My Roanoke Nightmare and their real life counterparts have moved back into the house for three days during the Blood Moon cycle. However, according to a title card, the sequel series never airs as almost everyone involved in the production of Return to Roanoke died under mysterious circumstances. Apparently we are simply watching the found footage from the experience.

Only one person survives "Return to Roanoke". (via FX)
Only one person survives "Return to Roanoke". (via FX)

It's a great concept and the found footage format of the second half of the season is definitely intensifying the terror but something just doesn't add up. We are not merely watching found footage because the footage appears to have been organized and edited to look like an episodic TV series which is exactly what Sidney wanted in the first place.

The Return To Roanoke Title Card Has Been Inserted Into The Footage

Perhaps this is a silly thing to pick up on, but one thing that I couldn't stop thinking about is the fact that Return to Roanoke has its own title card, very much in the style of the one seen in My Roanoke Nightmare. Used just before the show goes on commercial break, the title card is extremely creepy and knowing what we know about the outcome of the show, it's a perfect fit.

However, the thing that puzzles me is if Return to Roanoke never airs and we are merely watching the assembled found footage, then why is there a title card present? Who made the title card and what's the purpose of it if the show never made it to television? There is definitely something that hasn't been revealed to us yet.

Audrey & Rory's Wedding And The Production Footage From My Roanoke Nightmare

There is no way that the wedding tape would've been in the "found footage." (via FX)
There is no way that the wedding tape would've been in the "found footage." (via FX)

If we are to accept that we are watching the found footage then can someone please explain why there have been segments of unrelated content thrown in throughout? For example, how is Audrey and Rory's wedding tape included in the found footage? The footage from Return to Roanoke has clearly been edited in an attempt to be broadcast for TV, because it would not have included the tape of Rory and Audrey's wedding. I'm assuming it was included to show viewers their relationship and how much they care for each other, but again this would have had to have been inserted at a much later date.

Similarly, a section of production footage from My Roanoke Nightmare was included to highlight how Rory and Audrey first became romantically involved — this would've had to have been inserted in the Return to Roanoke post production which allegedly never happened.

The Swearing Is Censored

Dominic's language has been censored or 'bleeped' out. (via FX)
Dominic's language has been censored or 'bleeped' out. (via FX)

The censorship of the swearing confuses me and not for the reasons you might think. Yes, FX doesn't usually allow strong swear words in their shows but if the censoring in AHS is simply because of FX's policy then surely Murphy and the other writers would've refrained from using such language in the show? They've never had an issue with being unable to use that language in previous seasons. I understand all that, I'm more interested as to why the swearing has been censored within the universe of American Horror Story.

The Big Brother reality show format has been known to censor its participants uses of foul language so I think it's rather genius that AHS has used this feature because it adds to realism of the show. However, the assembled footage obviously wouldn't have been censored, it would've needed to have been edited in order to bleep the language. I'll ask again, why has the footage been edited/censored if the series never aired?

Are you a fan of American Horror Story? Check out these interesting theories:

There Is A Substantial Amount Of Footage Cut

The girls' journey into the woods was cut short in post production. (via FX)
The girls' journey into the woods was cut short in post production. (via FX)

I never really thought about the editing of the show during last week's episode because most of the events took place in real time on the first night in the Roanoke house. However, the latest episode featured substantial cuts to footage, confirming that someone has edited the footage.

The most notable cut was seen when Audrey, Lee and Monique were alone in the woods talking about how they have little time before it gets dark. Almost immediately, they were further into the woods and night had fallen, meaning that a substantial amount of footage was cut. Similarly, after Lee shot Agnes the three women made a run for it and the next scene immediately finds them further away and much more calmer than they were prior to the cut. It's clear that someone has edited this footage to cut out all of the unimportant moments — it's as if the footage was being prepared for broadcast.

The Structure Of The Episodes

There have been many cliffhanger moments. (via FX)
There have been many cliffhanger moments. (via FX)

If we are simply watching found footage then there would be no structure at all to the footage — there would have been endless footage with many boring and uneventful moments featuring no action and no speech. Again, this suggests that cuts were made but it also suggests that the jaw-dropping moments are left to a certain points of the episode for dramatic effect. These moments usually occur just before the Return to Roanoke title card appears, signifying a commercial break.

I also found it interesting that after My Roanoke Nightmare ended that AHS didn't go back to its usual creepy opening credits. I understand why they were dropped for the documentary part of the show, but I was under the impression that we were now watching the characters from Roanoke Nightmare go on another adventure. Instead, we appear to be watching another edited episodic series which doesn't make any sense considering the show never airs.

Moreover, some fans of American Horror Story complained about the shortened length of the episodes this season — almost every episode runs at around 39 minutes only. However, in the real world, documentaries like these are roughly only 39 minutes with commercial breaks — the AHS episodes of My Roanoke Nightmare were replicating this for effect. However, the episodes of Return to Roanoke are exactly the same length, suggesting that the footage has been assembled to resemble a series. Again, why would this be done if the show never airs?

Check out a preview for next week's episode:

Even though we are under the impression that Return to Roanoke never airs, it's becoming more and more apparent that somebody has edited this footage into episodic format ready for broadcast. It's definitely not the same show that would have aired had Sidney not died because there have been several moments that paint him in a totally negative light.

Somebody without any connection to Sidney must be responsible for this. However, it had to be someone who had access to the production footage of My Roanoke Nightmare. That leads me to another question — who is it that finds the footage and who edits it into a broadcast format? With rumours of another twist on its way, I guess we'll have to wait and find out in the next few episodes.

American Horror Story airs Wednesdays on FX. Do you think Return to Roanoke has been edited for broadcast by some third party? Tell me your thoughts in the comment section below.


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