‘American Horror Story’ season 6 review: Shrouded in mystery
THE SHOW “American Horror Story”
WHEN | WHERE Season 6 premieres Wednesday, Sept. 14, at 10 p.m. on FX
WHAT IT’S ABOUT Wouldn’t you like to know? (Wouldn’t I?) Fact is, no one does — no one, unless you’re the stars, crew, show-runners Brad Falchuk and Ryan Murphy, or FX chief John Landgraf, who said at the recent TV critics’ press tour, “We just thought it would be really fun to keep [the sixth season of ‘American Horror Story’] a mystery. So we are. The scripts come in and they’ve got my name emblazoned across them [and] everything is blacked out that might give away the season.” FX has aired and streamed 26 promotional teases — all but one Landgraf said are red herrings, or “misdirects.”
A few details have otherwise been revealed. Some cast has been confirmed by Murphy (at the Paleyfest in March): Finn Wittrock, Cheyenne Jackson, Wes Bentley, Matt Bomer, Angela Bassett, Denis O’Hare, Kathy Bates, Sarah Paulson. Lady Gaga is expected back as well. Each has appeared on “AHS” before.
Of the plot, Murphy was unhelpful, telling the crowd at Paleyfest, “We’ve been working on two ideas at once, which we’ve never done.”
MY SAY Brilliant, just brilliant.
Or maddening, just maddening.
Maybe brilliant and maddening.
Tell people — or especially TV fans — they can’t have something, and watch them scramble over one another in pursuit of that which has been denied — in this instance, the basic facts surrounding the sixth season of FX hit “American Horror Story.”
Into the vacuum has gone speculation — either all of it baseless, much of it baseless, or just some of it baseless.
At least all of it is extravagantly creative. For example (as Vanity Fair noted), one of the directors this season, Jessica Lynch — daughter of David — has shot largely from rural locations which — as TMZ and others noted — appears to support claims that the sixth will focus on the “Lost Colony” of 1585 which — as fans concur — seems about right because “AHS” does have recurrent historic themes, notably the Salem witch trials. (TMZ posted a picture from the set of the word “Croatoan” carved in bark — the word long associated with the Lost Colony).
There’s a problem with this theory. As other vacuum-abhorring fans recently discovered, both TV Guide and Rotten Tomatoes posted — then quickly withdrew — the season’s apparent title, “AHS: The Mist.” That would appear to be an obvious allusion to one of the promos — the one named “The Mist” — and to the 2007 movie, based on Stephen King’s book about fog-enshrouded monsters that think of humans as walking canapés.
Could this then be the sixth? With the possibility that FX planted the name on purpose — a distinct one — maybe it’s best to consider this just one more head fake.
Then there’s the more meta-meta-theory: That “AHS,” the series, is a loose adaptation of Dante’s “The Inferno,” with each season representing an individual circle of Hell. There are nine circles, hence the sixth season must correspond to the sixth circle, or “heresy.” The apparent problem here: None of the promos seem to have anything to do with Dante Alighieri, circles (of hell, or otherwise) or heresy.
But maybe that’s what Murphy and FX want us to believe. “Go back,” you can almost hear them say. “Study the promos. You’ve missed something. Also, read ‘The Inferno’ while you’re at it . . . ”
In the “AHS” tradition, the promos are miniature gems — gory, and blood-spattered but still gems. Watched back to back, they’re a stream-of-conscious horror nickelodeon, but watched individually, they are the bric a brac of an entire genre — spiders emerging from eyes, snakes from mouths, a centipede across a scalp. Hair is big — or long. Classic movies, too, are vaguely invoked, like 1954’s “Creature from the Black Lagoon,” and “Nosferatu,” the 1922 silent masterpiece about vampire Count Orlok, whose shadow climbs a staircase.
Some are also homages to the masters of horror, notably Clive Barker and King — along with some of their movies like Barker’s 1987 “Hellraiser,” and King’s “Children of the Corn.”
All are also dead ends. All but one.
Which one? We have no choice but to watch to find out.
BOTTOM LINE Clever idea keeping the sixth under wraps, but is this a gimmick to force us to watch a sub-standard season, or a gimmick to force us to watch a good one? Your call.