American Horror Story: Roanoke didn’t deploy the series’ traditional packed title sequence. We break down what the show’s reason was for the change.
American Horror Story: Roanoke breaks tradition with its lack of a proper title sequence. Every other season of the horror anthology series is known for featuring long, detailed-oriented title sequences that are littered with clues for the current season, and sometimes even reveal the season’s ending or a major twist. Instead, American Horror Story season 6 just has a flash of a title card that reads “My Roanoke Nightmare”.
American Horror Story season 6 has an unorthodox theme as well, proving that it deviates from the pattern established by Murphy in more ways than just its lack of title sequence. Roanoke kicks off by telling the story of Los Angeles couple Matt and Shelby as they relocate to an old home in North Carolina for a fresh start. They experience horrific and supernatural events in their new home. About halfway through the season, the story makes a complete 180 and reveals that what the audience had previously seen was simply a documentary re-enactment series that took place within the American Horror Story universe. The latter half of the season focuses on the real Matt and Shelby and everyone else involved with the documentary in a meta twist.
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The lack of title sequence in American Horror Story: Roanoke was supposed to be a hint that something was different in this season of the long-running horror anthology show. Even so, the long, involved title sequences are one of the most beloved aspects of American Horror Story, and have become a staple of the series, just like the teaser trailers that come before the season’s premiere. Taking it away was bound to take away some of the audience’s interest as well, and while it was a clever choice, it ultimately hurt Roanoke more than it helped.
AHS: Roanoke‘s title sequence – which was just a simple card – was a clue in its own right; in that regard, it technically followed the tradition. The “My Roanoke Nightmare” title card didn’t follow the style of seasons past, since the audience technically wasn’t watching American Horror Story. Instead, “My Roanoke Nightmare” existed within a fictional universe, so it didn’t need to follow the standard format. This change acted as a clue that American Horror Story season 6 wasn’t what it seemed to be on the surface. Yet, with Roanoke‘s confusing timeline, it would’ve been fairly impossible for even the most eagle-eyed fans to pick up on that.
The right move here would’ve been to introduce a traditional title sequence in the second half of American Horror Story: Roanoke. Once the show switches focus to the real Matt and Shelby, it takes the form of a more traditional season and plays out in the same way. Transitioning the title sequence back to its familiar format would have been a nice ode to its return to form. By not doing so, it never truly felt like American Horror Story. Roanoke was anything more than an ambitious experiment that fell flat in many ways, with the new title sequence near the top of that list.
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