Monday, June 11, 2018

American Horror Story: Roanoke Blu-ray Review

Reviewed by Allie Schembra
Life imitates grisly reality TV in one of television’s edgiest and most acclaimed shows ever! Told in gripping true-crime documentary style, “My Roanoke Nightmare” – this season’s show within the show – chronicles shocking paranormal events. Hoping to begin a peaceful new life in a rustic North Carolina farmhouse, Shelby and Matt Miller (Emmy winner Sarah Paulson and Oscar Winner Cuba Gooding, Jr.) flee Los Angeles only to find murder, mayhem, and madness! From a girl ghost to a swine monster to murderous nurse sisters to a sadistic cult leader known as “The Butcher” (Oscar Winner Kathy Bates), the couple’s home is filled with nonstop terrors.
Show (4 out of 5 stars)
Told in a Dateline format, complete with interviews and reenactments, My Roanoke Nightmare is the hottest show on television as told through the victims, Matt and Shelby  Miller. Matt and Shelby are out one evening in Los Angeles when they are attacked as part of a gang initiation. Matt is seriously injured and as a result of all the stress, Shelby suffers a miscarriage. In order to escape the dangers of the city, Matt and Shelby decide to move to North Carolina. There they buy a house at auction and as soon as they move in, strange things begin happening. 

When Matt has to leave Shelby alone in the house while he’s on a business trip, he sets up video cameras and asks his sister Lee to come stay with Shelby. One evening, Matt sees a mob approaching the house and rushes home to check on the ladies. After the incident, Shelby refuses to stay in the house and gets in the car to leave. On the road, she gets into an accident and ends up lost in the woods and seeing a human sacrifice.

Later, Matt and Shelby find an old root cellar which provides them with more information on the history of the house, and its former occupants. Lee’s daughter, Flora, comes to visit and when she disappears for a bit, Lee finds her hiding in a cupboard under the stairs. When Lee asks her what she was doing, Flora tells her she was playing with Priscilla, her new friend, who tells Flora that they are all going to die.

After the show airs and becomes a smash hit, the producers conspire to bring together each of the participants in the show… both the actors and the real people… back to the house for the three days of the blood moon. They come back to the house with the production team, who has wired the whole house with cameras and microphones. The crew parks the production trailer away from the house. However, as the blood moon rises, strange things start happening and people begin dying. As the days and nights go on, and cast, crew, and the real people die, more and more is revealed as the footage from the three days and nights of horror is found.

I don’t want to totally give away the ending, because it’s a bit of a twist, you’re just going to have to watch. I actually really enjoyed this season of AHS. I gave up on the show in the middle of the third season because I was bored, but watching Roanoke makes me want to go back and start again. I really enjoyed seeing all the actors again in new characters, and even enjoyed seeing Sarah Paulson reprise her role as reporter Lana Winters. Lady Gaga was really good in her role and I loved seeing Kathy Bates as the leader of the Roanoke clan. I really enjoyed how the story flowed and it played like an episode of “I Survived.” Once back at the house, the show played out as a found footage film, and really kept me on the edge of my seat. 
Video (4 out of 5 stars)
The widescreen presentation of the show is really good. Admittedly, I didn’t watch it when it was on television, so I can’t speak to the differences between the first airing and the Blu-ray version, however, the picture on the Blu-ray was crisp and clear, and since much of the show takes place at night, or in the dark, the colors were good. The picture was bright enough to see what was going on, but not bright enough to make you think it wasn’t supposed to be in the dark. Scene transitions were good, and at times, I forgot this was a television show that when first aired, had commercials. The natural breaks for the commercials flowed seamlessly throughout each episode.

Audio (4 out of 5 stars)
The English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 sound was really good. The music was creepy, and perfectly timed. Volume levels were even and the dialogue was easily heard. Audio is also available in French DTS 5.1, German DTS-HD. Subtitles in English for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, Spanish, French, and German, if needed. 
Extras (2 out of 5 stars)
I was disappointed in the special features for the season. I was hoping for more (any) behind-the-scenes looks at the making of the season, cast interviews, and answers to any outstanding questions.   
  • The Paley Center for Media: Q&A with Cast and Creative Team from PaleyFest 2017 (30:03) – The PaleyFest panel for AHS:Roanoke. It was interesting to see the cast and crew answering questions, and being so light-hearted; especially after such a heavy series.
  •  American Horror Story: Roanoke Promos (3:29) – All the promos and teasers for season six. 
Summary (3 1/2 out of 5 stars)
After a break from the series for a few years, AHS:Roanoke was good enough to bring me back. It’s made me want to go back and start at the beginning to see how each season intertwines with the others, how the cast has changed over the seasons, and which actors and actresses return from season-to-season. Also, if you’re interested in the story of Roanoke, this is a good interpretation of the Roanoke urban legend… is it history, a ghost story, or an unsolved mystery?

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