HOLLYWOOD—Are you a fan of 80s horror? I know I am, so when I learned the upcoming season of the FX series “American Horror Story” would be paying homage to horror in the decade that birthed the genre and also killed it I was intrigued. See I don’t see the 80s as birth to the horror genre; it was the birth of the slasher genre. It was a formula where a psychopath wearing a mask and some unique weapon of choice dispatched of teenagers in gruesome fashion.
“AHS: 1984” harkens to the slasher genre of the 80s in an epic fashion with a whodunit, blood-filled, scream-tacular thrill-fest. There are familiar faces returning for the anthology series, as well as some fresh faces. So I think fans of the series can finally argue a season that is not tied to previous seasons or not that we know of yet. The season premiere episode, ‘Camp Redwood’ opened with a flashback to 1970 with two teens hooking up instead of watching the campers.
A mysterious figure entered the cabin and viciously dispatched of the teens in bloody fashion. Yes, I’ve seen plenty of blood in horror, but these deaths were downright brutal. Not to mention the killer seems to have a calling card of taking human ears, and walks with a limp. We meet our core characters, Xavier (Cody Fern) Montana (Bille Lourd), Brooke (Emma Roberts), Chet (Gus Kenworthy) and Ray (DeRon Horton). These kids work at an aerobics facility and the big talk of the town is a serial killer on the loose.
Xavier landed a job as a camp counselor and invited his pals to join him, unware of the impending horror headed their way. I love the 80s clothing and vibe that Ryan Murphy and company have crafted up for this scare fest. Brooke has our classic final girl written all over her face. After someone breaks into her apartment stealing her jewelry, and sending her into a frightened state of mind, she jets out of town with her new pals. Looks like Chet has a crush on Brooke, and the kids are indulging in drugs. Wow, this feels like “Friday the 13th” all over again, even the crazy guy is warning the kids to stay away from Camp Redwood.
The gang struck a man on their way to the camp, and I felt an echo of “I Know What You Did Last Summer” people. The owner of the camp is Margaret (Leslie Grossman), who immediately went into panic mode after discovering a guy on the ‘side of the road.’ Nurse Rita (Anjelica Ross) went to work to treat the injured party. The counselors got a tour of the camp and Margaret is a righteous one to say the least. Oh, perfect timing for a scary ghost story during a campfire. Nurse Rita spilled the tea about Mr. Jingles aka Benjamin Richter (John Carroll Lynch) and the history of Camp Redwood’s legacy.
Flashbacks revealed our murderer serving his country, getting a joy out of killing and collecting trophies of his kills. However, Margaret decided to interrupt Rita’s tale, by alerting the counselors the truth about what transpired at the camp. Oh, the big twist, she is a survivor of Mr. Jingles’ massacre, and to prove it one of her ears was missing.
That guy on the road woke up and was in a panic, realizing his ear was missing, and Mr. Jingles may have struck yet again. I feel like I’m watching an actual horror movie and as cheesy and cliché as it is, I’m so invested in this narrative. The hiker flipped and warned Brooke to get away from Camp Redwood. The gang met Trevor (Matthew Morrison), the activities coordinator. Montana and Trevor decided to go skinny dipping in the lake; not a good idea people. Montana spotted headlights from a distance which spooked her to say the least.
Hmm, here we go with the “Halloween” reference of an escaped mental patient on the loose, and the doctors at the facility in a panic. Our killer faked hanging himself so that he could escape from the hospital; genius, but definitely sociopathic, as evidence showed he’s heading back to Camp Redwood to unleash more mayhem. Mr. Jingles viciously dispatched of that gas station attendant as he headed towards Camp Redwood. If Ray is the first person to die, like the typical ‘The Black person always dies first in horror movies,’ I’m going to be pissed. I get we’re paying homage, but why can’t we have some twists people.
Brooke spotted the hiker’s body hanging from the door, just as Mr. Jingles dawned upon her. Wow, are we getting a major twist, with Brooke dying first? Almost, but Brooke managed to get to safety to alert the rest of the gang, letting them know the hiker was dead. When the others went to go investigation, Mr. Jingles had already moved the body. So Brooke knows the killer is on the loose, but no one believes her. Brooke decided to answer that payphone (is this girl an idiot or what)? You were just nearly eviscerated by a killer and you’re going to go out in the woods ALONE to answer a ringing payphone. Oh this is definitely 80s horror at its best. The episode culminated with that guy who attacked her inside her apartment, arriving to Camp Redwood.
So very interesting premise, where we’ve met our core characters, we have the backstory for our villain and suspicion has been unleashed on the camp. This might be “American Horror Story’s” best kick-off to the season in a long time. “AHS: 1984” airs Wednesdays at 10 p.m. on FX. Get ready to have some sleepless nights America!