EJ Moreno on the season premiere of American Horror Story: 1984…
1980’s nostalgia will never go out of style. From the clothes to the iconic music, people love looking back at one of the strangest times in pop culture. American Horror Story is just the latest to join the 80’s madness, with their new slasher-inspired season American Horror Story: 1984.
1984 is the first time a season of the show feels like a direct homage to a genre of horror. While Murder House and Asylum feel like a throwback to classic horror, this season is taking us back to a time so many fans look back with fondness. That’s a perfect way to grab casual fans into your show, and a great way to get diehard horror lovers to check out. Mostly every genre fan enjoys a slasher if it’s the original Halloween or Nightmare on Elm Street, so this is a genius idea, and it pays off nicely.
The first episode plays like the first act of a slasher movie; we introduced to the killer in a cold open, meet the characters, and the first significant incident happens. It’s all familiar to genre fans, but there’s something just a little bit off. When they meet a hitchhiker, he seems like he’s from a different time. The order of events is just a bit off. Is there’s some weird timeline wonkiness happening?
If you are a fan of AHS, you know nothing is ever as it seems.
This season of American Horror Story focuses on Brooke, played by series staple Emma Roberts, who is our typical “final girl.” She’s innocent, shy, and we all know that will change by the final episode. This turn is a real switch for Roberts as she is usually a more assertive character, but the change of pace is refreshing. Joining her is Xaiver (Cody Fern), Montana (Billie Lourd), Chet (Gus Kenworthy), and Ray (Deron Horton). The group of 80’s stereotypes you know all too well.
These are our main characters and the new camp counselors at the soon-to-reopen Camp Redwood. Fourteen years after a brutal slaying at the camp, there’s a new face running the camp who hopes to erase the memory of Mr. Jingles. Who is Mr. Jingles exactly? He’s a brand new killer and another fantastic performance from veteran actor John Carroll Lynch. The former Twisty The Clown has a unique vibe this season, and he’s going to give Michael Myers a run for his money.
As silly as his name is, Mr. Jingles is no joke as he racked up some ruthless kills in this premiere episode. Will 1984 be the goriest season yet? By the looks of it, things are only going to get worse.
Everything in ‘Camp Redwood’ feels so true to the time. While the outfits and references feel a little on the nose at the times, the season never dives into parody. What seals the deal on the greatness of the ’80s is the soundtrack, with so many great songs throughout the episode. Also, if you were listening carefully, many of them predict a lot of what is happening. ‘Cruel Summer’ and ‘Somebody’s Watching Me’ are time-accurate hits that say a lot of bouts the story.
Another musical cue that locks us into the era is the score. The synths are heavy in this episode, and it sounds so lovely. Shows like Stranger Things helped spark this latest ’80s craze, and they are also a big fan of making sure the score puts you in the mood. 1984 does a similar thing with firmly placing you in this world, but something about the music feels even more fun than other attempts.
Add in some excellent film grain to the footage, and a plethora of references to things like Reagan and you got yourself a damn good time.
While some may find the first episode of American Horror Story: 1984 to a be a bit too campy, I found it to be the best thing for the show. After the heaviness of the last few seasons, a lighter/more fun approach is going to make this an easy viewing.
1984 does a great job of making longtime slasher fans happy, while still being welcoming enough for new viewers. While it might not be the best premiere in the show’s history, ‘Camp Redwood’ sets up a very promising future.