Be prepared to sleep with one eye open, the newest season of American Horror Story has premiered. The frights began this past week with the anthology series’ sixth season premiere, subtitled “Roanoke.”

The new season has taken a big turn away from the others from a marketing standpoint as the theme of the season wasn’t announced until it aired. That decision has proved fruitful since speculation about the theme built more excitement for the season. The subtitle could lead to some confusion as there was no opening sequence where the complete title of the show is displayed.

Without the title sequence, the audience had to assume that when the show cut to commercial, the card showing “My Roanoke Nightmare” was the title. The premise of the season likens itself to a documentary, looking back on the events of married couple Matt and Shelby Miller’s life as they move to an area assumed to be Roanoke.

Most of the cast from the previous season have returned for new roles, including series veterans Sarah Paulson, Evan Peters, Angela Bassett and Lily Rabe, as well as other returning actors such as Lady Gaga, Wes Bentley and Cheyenne Jackson. New cast members include Cuba Gooding, Jr., Andre Holland and Adina Porter.

As characters are running around screaming, it’s hard to get a clear picture of what they’re thinking. The audience is only able to see the back stories of the Miller couple and of Lee, Matt’s sister.

The documentary delivery style can also hinder the story since it could become overrun with narration instead of focusing on the actions of the characters. Whenever I was writing in an English class in high school my teachers would always say, “Show, don’t tell.” I am afraid that the season could fall into that hole through the use of a documentary style approach. While the other seasons always focused on the current actions of the characters, this season puts emphasis on the narration of the characters of past actions.

Something that happened at the beginning of the episode and might occur during the other episodes of the season was a flash-forward sequence. Before the main story arc, there was a slideshow that depicted some of the events of the episode with monologues of the characters as voiceovers.

I also feel that the producers are wasting the potential of some of their actors. Rabe, Holland and Porter are trapped in the confessional-like atmosphere of the documentary, simply telling the story. The only emotion that they evoked was anger and sadness, to the point where characters had to wipe a couple tears from their eyes. Rabe has proven that she is a capable actress with several roles on previous AHS seasons, but she is confined to the square box of the TV screen telling a story instead of actively participating in it. Hopefully, at some point they leave the confessional and return to the house where the story takes place.

It’s exciting to see how they work with the lost settlers of the Roanoke Colony. What many fans of the show love about AHS is how the producers and writers work in the history of the subjects and locations of the show. From the Axman killer and real life characters Marie Laveau and Madame Lalaurie of Coven to the actual murder hotel in “Hotel” that the creators took inspiration from, they usually include some kind of historical references in the seasons.

AHS is coming off of a good season with “Hotel,” which may be one of the best seasons in recent years, though hopefully, the story of Matt and Shelby itself can overcome its strange, somewhat clunky delivery.

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