After a dip in ratings during the last season, Roanoke, American Horror Story is back and better than ever. AHS: Cult follows couple Ivy and Ally in a fictional Michigan town, as their lives take a turn for the worse in the aftermath of 2016's whirlwind presidential election. As Ally's anxious fear of clowns and holes begins to reemerge, the town is suddenly terrorized by a string of murders led by a group of clowns (or so we think).
Cult draws upon childhood nostalgia of clowns and beloved ice cream trucks to create the most horrifying nightmare imaginable. The madness makes you scream, emanating both fear and confusion, which in many opinions defines good horror.
This season covers all facets. It's both cringe-worthy and mesmerizing, nail-biting and adrenaline-pumping, and scare-you-to-death terrifying. In the first episode alone, perfectly-timed, sweet ice cream truck music parallels the viciously brutal murder of the innocent next-door neighbors. The scene almost takes your breath away. In this changing entertainment world, rarely do horror films or television programs accomplish that goal.
As with all American Horror Story seasons, the makeup and costumes are spot on. From multi-faced murderous clowns, a death in a restaurant freezer and the re-emergence of Twisty from season 4, Cult's vicious characters and murder scenes are too real for the faint of heart.
While the intricate plotline of cults, clowns and elections at times seem both confusing and disconnected, as with most AHS seasons, time will eventually converge these seemingly disparate stories. The perplexing plot line not only adds mystery and suspense but also a sense of unpredictability that causes you to wonder if what you're seeing is actually happening. At times, one is unsure whether the scene is a character's perspective, a hallucination or merely a dream sequence.
However, the most important aspect of this season is its ability to draw upon real-world events to create horror that hits home. Using footage from 2016's election night and campaign trail in the very first minute, AHS sets the scene. The show echoes numerous chilling comments made by Trump in real life and conveys some of the negative effects of these words on many average Americans through the character of Kai, a staunch Trump supporter.
Fueled by fear, hatred and manipulation, Kai's radicalized views and harassment of a group of Hispanics in the first episode mimics and represents the rise of white supremacy and hate crimes in the U.S. since election night. Through Kai, AHS also attempts to expose the deranged, unstable mindsets of many radical Trump supporters, especially their irrational feeling of renewed white power and invincibility.
On the other hand, characters such as Ally and Ivy, among others, represent the victims of these crimes and also serve as a greater representation of the fear that has overcome society since November. Cult's ability to intertwine real life politics and fantasy sends an eerie warning that is enough to scare even some of the bravest horror aficionados.