Warning: This story contains spoilers.
‘American Horror Story’ Season 6 is returning to the show’s haunted house roots — with a twist.
In “My Roanoke Nightmare,” which debuted Wednesday, Sarah Paulson and Cuba Gooding Jr. play a couple named Shelby and Matt who move into a North Carolina home only to find that the house is not an average fixer upper.
But rather than experience the story directly through their point of view, the narrative is cut with documentry-style explainers from the characters — played by different actors portraying the roles of Shelby and Matt (Lily Rabe and Andre Holland). They narrate their story as the audience watches it play out in an Investigation Discovery-style reenactment starring Paulson and her “American Crime Story” co-star.
Angela Bassett also appears, playing Matt’s ex-cop sister, Lee, in the main narrative. Adina Porter plays her in the documentary-style explainers.
This is the first time an “American Horror Story” installment has taken on this storytelling format and the jury remains out. What’s clear, however, is that the show is certainly recommitted to the horror part of its title.
The first hour alone featured a rain storm of human teeth, an appearance from a human-like creature with a pig head, torch-carrying trespassers and Kathy Bates as an old-timey woods wanderer with a cleaver.
Season 1 of “American Horror Story” also centered on a family whose house-hunting skills failed them.
The story told in “My Roanoke Nightmare” may in some way tie to the tale of the Roanoke Colony, a group of about 100 people who mysteriously disappeared in 1590.
Wednesday’s season premiere of FX’s horror anthology unveiled the theme for the season that had until the episode’s broadcast been shrouded in secrecy. The network and executive producer Ryan Murphy went to great lengths to withhold details about the new season, even going so far as to release two dozen promos meant to misdirect the audience.
The series will, it seems, continue to release information on its own terms. Instead of airing a promo for the second episode, as is customary, viewers were told on air to visit the show’s social media accounts following the west coast broadcast for a sneak peek of next week’s episode.
That video featured a tease of Denis O’Hare’s role in the season to come, a reference to devil worship and a person being cooked over a fire.
Welcome back, “American Horror Story.”