American Horror Story: Roanoke Chapter 3

7.9 Overall Score
Writing: 7/10
Directing : 8/10
Acting : 9/10

Leslie Jordan as Cricket Barlowe | Jennifer Lynch's directing

Still a tad glacial in pacing.

 

American Horror Story:  “Roanoke” -Chapter Three

Starring:
Cuba Gooding Jr and Andre Holland as Matt
Sarah Paulson and Lilly Rabe as Shelly
Angela Bassett and Adina Porter as Lee
Dennis O’Hare as Elias Cunnigham
Leslie Jordan as Cricket Barlowe
Kathy Bates as The Butcher
Written by: Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk
Directed by: Jennifer Lynch

American Horror Story created by Ryan Murphy
2016

 

Shelly and Matt are a nice, middle-upper class interracial couple. He sells pharmaceuticals. She teaches yoga. They even avoid gluten. In the aftermath of a random violent crime that puts Matt in a coma and causes Shelly to lose their unborn child, they move to the Northern Carolinian countryside. There, the couple buys a centuries-old farmhouse (by outbidding some odd locals) surrounded by dozens of acres of dense forest. But what initially seems peaceful to Matt, is foreboding, threatening and ominous to Shelly. Soon, as this is, an American “horror” story, the weirdness starts, and terror once again enters their lives.

Okay so things have finally started to move along, and get interesting.  Chapter 3 opens in the woods as Matt, Shelly and Lee continue their search for the missing Flora. What they find instead is straight out of Texas Chainsaw Massacre; two feral boys breastfeeding off a pig corpse (an homage to Romulus and Remus). It’s gruesome and actually disturbing. We learn the kids are members of the Polk family, the same hillbilly types that lost the land to Matt and Shelly in Chapter one. The kids say growl only one word, “Croatoan”, a call back to season one “Murder House”.

This episode introduces what is likely to be, at least for a while, another major player, psychic Cricket Barlowe, played excellently by Leslie Jordan. Barlowe is a southern dandy in the Truman Capote tradition. But Jordan’s plays him as equal parts opportunist and courageous. An odd, creepy man who has made money off finding missing children, but has always delivered and proven his merit. It’s a great role played excellently and reminds me of Zelda Rubenstein as Tangeria in the original Poltergeist.

We also finally meet mote of the Roanoke colonists and learn more about them. Kathy Bates is revealed to be the matriarch of the head family, whose husband leaves behind with their son, played by Wes Bentley, to venture out and get supplies. Then terrible things happen. These sequences are actually creepy and gory, featuring throat slashes, meat cleavers to the head, and a creepy Lady Gaga offering Bate’s a human heart to feed on (spoiler alert, she eats it!). This flashback leads to us finally finding out it is this woman, known as “The Butcher”, who haunts and protects the land she claims as hers. The connection to the real Roanoke legend is deepened here.

We also get a brief glimpse of yet another layer of reality, as for the first time the “talking head” segments allow us to hear someone other than the speaker. When the “real” Lee has a breakdown while filming, we hear the filmmakers for the first time, as the shot switches to an angle that allows us to see even more of the “Roanoke Nightmare” set. It’s quick and subtle, but it does add another layer.

Chapter 3 is directed by Jennifer Lynch, talented daughter of David Lynch. And her input had a lot to do with the stepping up in this chapter. Visually it’s great, and she improved the performance of the whole cast. This episode was very cinematic.

American Horror Story: Roanoke is finally picking up some narrative steam, and that’s good because I was just about ready to give up on it. Chapter 3 definitely rekindled my interest, and I’m pretty sure I’ll ride out this season until the end now.

American Horror Story: Roanoke airs Wednesday nights on FX at 10pm. Check your local listings for channel number info. 

 

 

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Author: Manny Gomez View all posts by
Manny Gomez is a freelance writer based out of Florida's west coast. He obsessively reads interviews, binge watches TV shows, loves comics, movies, punk rock, hip-hop, stand-up comedy, detective novels and the mythology of baseball. His best friend is a dog. Follow him on Twitter @Manny1138

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