After weeks of teasing audiences with a mystery theme and subtitle for the upcoming season of American Horror Story, the jig may finally be up. FX’s long-running horror anthology series from Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk has been playing coy with its viewers ahead of the new season, dropping more vague promos and ambiguous hints than the lead up to a new Frank Ocean album. The onslaught of marketing material has been interesting so far, to say the least. Covering everything from arachnophobia to body modification to creepy corn-fed children, the promos have almost taken on a life of their own, so much so that, at the rate and quantity that they’ve been released, it’s surprising some intrepid fan hasn’t strung them together into a semi-cohesive trailer for the new season.
As it turns out, though, all the secrecy ahead of the show’s earlier-than-usual premiere in just two weeks may have been spoiled by two scheduling leaks, which have both referred to the series as American Horror Story: The Mist. If true, all the work that went into keeping the theme and subtitle a secret – including several deliberate misdirects, as FX president John Landgraf noted at the recent TCA press tour – having the information spoiled by a couple of TV listings is a little like having your planet-destroying space station blown up by a farm kid’s lucky shot.
At any rate, the listings came from Rotten Tomatoes and TVGuide, both of which have seemingly confirmed The Mist as the subtitle. Normally, this would be taken with a grain of salt – and it still should be until official confirmation comes from FX – but scrolling back through the litany of promos the network has released up to this point reveals one of the promos is, in fact, titled The Mist. The short promo (above) shows a set of train tracks disappearing into an amber-colored mist, while a strange, seemingly malevolent creature stalks up toward the camera before the teaser ends.
This is an interesting development for a couple of reasons. Most notably is the fact that The Mist isn’t as specific a place as previous seasons of American Horror Story have been. Instead, it’s something more akin to a thing people need to be wary of – an actual antagonist of sorts, or at least the source of some kind of antagonist for the season. Which brings the discussion around to the other reason The Mist is an interesting title. It’s already the title of a Stephen King novel, movie adaptation, and upcoming TV series on Spike. With such market saturation and fan recognition for King’s work, it does seem odd that Murphy and FX would go with something like The Mist. Then again, considering how, season after season, AHS has been a pastiche of past horror films and genre tropes, it’s perhaps not that surprising to see the series walk right up and snatch a title and theme from the hands of another franchise that’s been holding it for years.
At any rate, if American Horror Story season 6 really is The Mist, there’s still plenty of mystery left to be uncovered. The title is almost deliberately vague and the promo, creepy as it is, doesn’t reveal anything regarding a possible story line or how the cast of Sarah Paulson, Angela Bassett, Evan Peters, and Lady Gaga might fit into such a scenario – whatever that scenario might be. If it all turns out to be true, then it’s a little disappointing from a marketing standpoint to have the reveal be lifted through the equivalent of an open window, but here’s hoping FX makes the most of it with the upcoming season.
American Horror Story season 6 premieres Wednesday, September 14 @10pm on FX.