American Horror Story has always played on classic horror tropes and subverted them to produce jaw-dropping plot-twists. This season is about a bunch of friends who go to Camp Redwood and find out that certain urban legends refuse to die. Compared to its predecessors such as Asylum, Coven and Freak Show, 1984 falls short of chills and game-changing plot twists.
Creators: Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk
Cast: Emma Roberts, Billie Lourd, Leslie Grossman, Matthew Morrison, Cody Fern, John Carroll Lynch
Seasons: 9 (2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019)
Streaming on: Hotstar
An ode to slasher movies
American Horror Story (AHS) is a horror anthology that comes from the same minds that gave us Glee, Scream Queens and Pose. Season nine pays homage to slasher films such as Friday The 13th, Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Halloween.
Set in 1984, the story focuses on lycra-loving aerobics coach Xavier (Cody Fern) and his friends Montana (Billy Lourd), Chet (Gus Kenworthy), Ray (DeRon Horton) and Brooke (Emma Roberts) who decide to work as counsellors for a summer at Camp Redwood.
Welcome to Camp Redwood
The series actually starts in 1970 at Camp Redwood, where a threesome is rudely interrupted by a killer who hacks the camp counsellors to death and then cuts their ears off as souvenirs. It turns out that the hooded killer, known as Mr Jingles (he carries a keychain on his belt that jingles whenever he moves), has massacred an entire cabin full of campers. As a result, Camp Redwood shuts down. Fast forward to 1984 when it’s reopened by Margaret Booth (Leslie Grossman), who, dun dun dun, turns out to be the sole survivor of the summer massacre and believes the best way to get over those horrific memories is to create good ones in their stead.
A crazy killer makes his way to the camp
The real reason Xavier and the gang leave Los Angeles is Richard ‘Night Stalker’ Ramirez (Zach Villa). Brooke finds herself on Ramirez’s hit list when she survives an attack by him and he swears to kill her. Naturally, he follows her to Camp Redwood, where we meet the rest of the characters: nurse Rita (Angelica Ross), camp activities director Trevor (Matthew Morrison) and Chef Bertie (Tara Karsian).
Another crazy killer is on the loose
While trading campfire stories, Rita tells them about Benjamin Richter aka Mr Jingles (John Carroll Lynch) who is incarcerated at a mental institution. Cut to: chaos at the mental institution, which Richter has ingeniously managed to escape. Despite learning of Richter’s escape, Margaret refuses to shut down the camp, and Xavier and friends decide they’re done with camping. The group decides to split up (classic horror trope), and it’s (duh) the biggest mistake they make.
It’s psycho versus psycho
Bodies start to pile up now that Mr Jingles and the Night Stalker are both in the same place at the same time. Pranksters wearing Mr Jingles masks to trick the gang, Trevor, Ray, chef Bertie, Xavier’s friend Blake (Todd Staswick), nurse Rita, Dr Hopple and Jonas (the camper the gang rescues) perish in the bloodbath. In a highly anticipated serial killer vs serial killer showdown, Ramirez and Richter go head to head for custody of a trapped Brooke.
Turns out each one is either a liar or a murderer
Each character has a secret. Brooke’s father and friend were shot by her fiancé on their wedding day because he suspected her of infidelity. Montana is in cahoots with Ramirez, her lover, and wants him to kill Brooke for her. Turns out that the friend shot by Brooke’s fiancé was her brother. Nurse Rita isn’t a nurse. In fact, she’s not even Rita but serial killer-obsessed psychologist Donna Chambers who orchestrated Richter’s escape. Ray is not only a selfish coward but also a cold-blooded killer responsible for the death of a college mate. Golden boy Chet’s Olympic dreams were crushed because he tested negative during the drug test, an allegation he vehemently denied. Actually, Chet did take those drugs. Xavier’s shameful secret is that the wannabe actor has a couple of gay pornographic titles to his name. Which brings us to the biggest secret keeper of the lot…Margaret Booth.
The plot has more twists than a bowl of spaghetti
Episode four, titled ‘True Killers’, reveals that it was Margaret and not Benjamin Richter who was responsible for the summer massacre at Camp Redwood in 1970. Bullied, harassed and isolated by her fellow camp counsellors, an enraged Margaret kills them and puts the blame on her guileless and beloved ‘Benji’. She cut off their ears and planted them as evidence in Richter’s box of belongings. For 14 years of torture in the mental institute, he confronts her in a glorious showdown.
Let’s call it Camp Deadwood
The remaining characters (Chet, Xavier, Mr Jingles and Montana) meet their end in gruesome ways. The one who has the worst luck is Brooke. Not only does she lose her virginity to Ray’s ghost, she then finds his severed head in the refrigerator. Jesus-loving Margaret pins the deaths of everyone in the camp on Brooke, who’s arrested and taken away by the cops.
Actually, it’s Camp Purgatory
The ghosts of Ray, Chet, Montana and the others come to the conclusion that they’re stuck in Purgatory with nowhere to go. Montana can’t wait to unleash her inner murderer and kill as many people as possible. And what of Richter and Ramirez? In a terrific twist, the two become undead Satanists headed to Los Angeles in a stolen police car ready to wreak havoc.