AHS: 1984 is a perfectly executed throwback to the eighties and a big trip to slasher lane.
The ninth season of American Horror Story is called 1984 and is a nostalgic trip to the eighties and one big slasher fest. The clothing, music, setting, atmosphere, cinematography, zeitgeist, every detail brings an ode to the colorful era of the eighties.
But the story is as eighties as can be as well, with a summer camp, a serial killer on the loose, a satan worshipper on the loose, ghosts, and aerobics fun. It’s all wrapped up in one big storyline, with lots of twists and turns, unexpected surprises, lots of kills, a lot of humor and thrills and girlpower with the ultimate final girls.
This ninth season consists of 9 episodes each with a duration of 38-48 minutes. It takes place in three different times, but tells one big story about very human themes. The first half takes place in 1984 in just one night, while the second part takes place in 1989.
It’s 1984 and a serial killer called Night Stalker roams the streets of LA, while the Olympics are at hand. A couple of young adults flee the city each for their own reasons and join a summer camp called Camp Redwood to be camp leaders. It’s the first time the camp is reopened after a bloody massacre in 1970 and Margaret Booth the only survivor has bought Redwood to turn it into something good.
But when the Camp killer who is called Mr. Jingles escapes and also returns to Camp Redwood and Night Stalker has followed one of his escaped victims, things take a sinister turn. The night before the grand opening turns again in a bloody frightful night.
Why you should watch it
This season looks like a straight forward slasher, but as it turns out, is anything but. That is the strength of this season and makes it a powerful story with multiple themes.
The first half of this season takes place in just one night. In the first episode we learn something about each character. Brooke is the one who survived an attack of Night Stalker. Xavier was the one who proposed to go to Camp Redwood. And Chet an athlete, Montana the aerobics buff and Ray the college guy, and Brooke join him. As the night progresses we learn by means of flashbacks why they each fled the city and that each one of them hides a terrible secret.
But the staff, Trevor the coach, Bertie the cook and Rita the nurse and of course Margaret, have their own reasons or connections with Camp Redwood to willingly return.
Each character adds something personal and vital to the story, and they are well-developed. And not everybody is what he or she seems to be. It’s a big cast, that grows even bigger in the second half, with a great variety of people and each play a part in a very human battle between good and evil.
This first half has a great buildup. It has some twists and turns, thrilling cliffhangers, and is just one big slasher fest that plays out. It’s fun with some dark humor, but very thrilling and intriguing due to the twists and reveals. But it’s not all about the killings. Each character develops during the episodes to transcend their mere stereotypes.
But that’s only the first half of the season. After the whole ordeal the rest of the story still has to play out. The second half begins in 1989, but also more is revealed about the Camp’s history in 1948. It’s a display of how all the killing, the bad evil vibe really began, its origins, but it’s also a display of how it will be all brought to an epic end by two kick-ass final girls.
This creative structure keeps it interesting, fun, intriguing and asides from the character’s developments, there’s a lot of room for in-depth analyses of different themes. It’s not just a slasher that brings an ode to the eighties. It addresses themes like forgiveness, revenge, humanity, lost of innocence and the question if a serial killer is born or created.
Although it’s initially a slasher, it’s anything but blunt, crude or narrow minded. Killers become victims, victims become killers, innocence turns into revenge and revenge turns into forgiveness. It’s a grey area that is uncharted territory for the characters, but in time they grow and overcome horrifying ordeals. Those ordeals also take place at different levels, because being a victim can be caused by many reasons, some even by manipulative sinister means. And not all victims are just innocent girls. This makes the story even greater.
It throws serial killers, satanists, ghosts, the occult, the supernatural, in the mix with dark humor, serious themes, epic scenes all with a wonderful eighties vibe. With lots of nods and references to the era and the films from that era, it’s great fun.
My favorite part
I really love Emma Roberts. She has a sparkle that makes her believable as both a bitchy type and as a totally naive innocent girl. In this season she gets to play both and she steals every scene she’s in.
But I also love the eighties and the whole era really comes back to life in every detail. Even the intro clip is just like an eighties music video/slasher trailer. The synthesizer sounds are great, the terrible too short men-shorts are fantastic, the big hairspray hair, Kajagoogoo, it’s all a big nostalgic trip to memory lane.
The way the whole storyline plays out, the first five episodes of the slasher night are incredibly well-done, but the final episodes are epic as well. This season is fully focused and the story and characters are key. It all fits so nicely together and when they manage to give it a big emotional touch at the end, well then it really has everything. It shows that the series really enjoys this one and it’s a blast.
Epic factor: ★★★★★
Gore factor: ★★★★☆
Nostalgic factor: ★★★★★
Gruesome factor: ★★★★★
Originality factor: ★★★★★
Entertainment factor: ★★★★★
Read more about American Horror Story:
- American Horror Story season 1: Murder House review
- American Horror Story season 2: Asylum review
- American Horror Story season 3: Coven review
Cast and crew
AHS: 1984 is created by Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk. It stars Emma Roberts (Brooke), Billie Lourd (Montana), Leslie Grossman (Margaret), John Caroll Lynch (Mr. Jingles), Cody Fern (Xavier), Matthew Morrison (Trevor), Gus Kenworthy (Chet), Angelica Ross (Rita), Zach Villa (Night Stalker), DeRon Horton (Ray), Lily Rabe (Lavinia), Finn Wittrock (Bobbby), and Dylan McDermott (Bruce).
Music: Mac Quayle. Cinematography: Gavin Kelly. Production companies: Brad Falchuk Teley-Vision, Ryan Murphy Productions, 20th Century Fox Television. Original network: FX.