Slasher series ‘American Horror Story’ returns

Season 9 of “American Horror Story” has been teased extensively over the summer and returns to FX on Sept. 18. The season is expected to draw inspiration from popular slasher films from the ‘80s. Photo courtesy of Wkipedia

By Madalyn Watson | Print Managing Editor

Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk’s chilling love child, “American Horror Story,” is well known for its mysterious teasers and trailers that build anticipation for each upcoming season.

American Horror Story: 1984,” the ninth season inspired by slasher horror films from the 80s, returns to FX in the U.S. at 10 p.m. Sept. 18. As fans await the anthology series’ return, they predict that the season will draw insight from films like “Friday the 13th” and “Nightmare on Elm Street” as well as the dystopian novel with the same name by George Orwell.

Between April 10 and Aug. 27, FX Networks released several different teasers for season nine, including ones focusing on each of the characters as well as paying homage to several of the films that audiences expected the anthology series to reference. Teasers, such as ones dubbed “Camp Redwood,” “Top Bunk” and “Campfire” set up the atmosphere and paint a scene for its audience: a group of teenagers at a summer camp terrorized by a terrifying, axe-wielding murderer.

The season nine official trailer—and the string connecting all its preceding teasers together into a somewhat cohesive look into American Horror Story: 1984—was finally released Aug. 26.

Here is a scene by scene breakdown of dissecting the official trailer and what certain aspects of it could mean for the return of American Horror Story in September.

“Friday the 13th” but Not?

The beginning of the trailer sets the scene for the series at Camp Redwood, which was teased before, as two young women embrace each other in a single bunk before a menacing figure with jingling keys hanging from its belt interrupts. A loud girlish scream, a close-up on Leslie Grossman’s character in bed and violent images ensue, suggesting a violent massacre before the trailer cuts to the title.

We later learn in the trailer that this figure is possibly Mr. Jingles, a potential antagonist and monster that hunts the other characters in the series. The keys that are focused on in this scene could make Mr. Jingles a janitor type character, but it also could show that there is nowhere for his victims to hide because he has keys to all the different properties on the campgrounds.

The grainy footage, like several other clips and scenes featured later in the trailer, suggests that it is from a flashback of an original massacre that occurs at the campgrounds. At this point in the trailer, slasher fans already start to notice the series’ similarities to “Friday the 13th.” The remnants of the massacre are revealed as a bloody pile of slain bodies, with possibly no survivors, before the trailer completely switches tones and timelines.

‘80s, ‘80s, ‘80s!

Some amount of time after the massacre, several young adults and teens, including some of the main characters, participate in aerobics dressed in brightly colored spandex.

Cody Fern’s character tells the rest of the gang about a gig he has at a summer camp close to the aerobics studio. His group of friends, made up of series AHS alumni Billie Lourd and Emma Roberts as well as newcomers Gus Kenworthy and DeRon Horton (“Dear White People”), apparently agree to join him because one of the next scenes show them packed in a green van on the way to the camp.

The scene also flashes back to an attack on Emma Roberts’ character, Brooke, by a violent assailant with a curved knife while she was in her bed. Although the experience appears to make her cautious about leaving for the camp, it also could be haunting her character throughout the season, or however long she survives.

Slasher Film’s Galore

We see an aerial shot of the green van whose color could be a reference to the green van in “Texas Chainsaw Massacre,” before closing in on the teens gossiping about an escaped murderer from a psychiatric facility.

The van hits a person during their roadtrip that they take to the camp nurse played by Angelica Ross (“Pose”), but they withhold the truth and tell her that they just found him on the road. The crash, as well as the poorly crafted lie, closely resemble the inciting action in another popular slasher film, “I Know What You Did Last Summer.”

After being led away from the nurse and the injured man by none other than Leslie Grossman’s character, who survived the original massacre and is now a camp counselor, she introduces them to the suspicious Chef Bertie, a veteran of Camp Redwood, who said, “Nothing but good memories about this place,” before a brief flashback to the grainy footage of the massacre.

The following scene also remains closely tied to slasher film tropes as many patients are seen milling about in the pouring rain, having escaped from a psychiatric hospital like “Halloween.” In the middle of the storm Mitch Pileggi’s (“The X-Files”) character tells a woman that one of the patients has escaped and his name is Mr. Jingles.

Mr. Jingles, played by AHS veteran John Carroll Lynch, could now be a Michael Myers-type killer based on this scene as a possible origin story. Lynch is no stranger to playing the monster, having played Twisty the Clown in “AHS: Freakshow” and Cult in addition to John Wayne Gacy in “AHS: Hotel.”

Scary Scenes by the Campfire

Cut to the rest of the cast circling a campfire. Brooke asks, “Who is Mr. Jingles?” The nurse tells the teenage counselors that the campground is the site of the worst massacre in history, but she is interrupted. The teens reference Brooke’s past with killers and tell her they’re not in the mood for some silly ghost story.

After the campfire scene, viewers are bombarded with several shots of traditional slasher jump scares and violence. Some featuring fire, characters crawling on the ground away from something as well as a killer with the same curved blade that was used on Brooke in the earlier flashback. If you look closely, these scenes also reveal another character played by recognizable actor, Matthew Morrison (“Glee”).

The final scene in the trailer is another homage to an ‘80s slasher flick, “Friday the 13th,” where the teens are getting gas at a gas station and an old man tells them they are all going to die.

A fitting trailer ending for a series known for killing off almost all of their cast members only to revive them as different characters in a later season.