It's been about four years since American Horror Story: Roanoke came out, and we still have some questions about what we witnessed and what roles those characters will play in future seasons.
In case you're not caught up, Roanoke is a found footage themed season from the popular series, which for the first half is shown in the form of a paranormal reality TV show where actors recount the experience of Shelby and Matt moving into a haunted colonial farmhouse. As strange things began to happen, the truth about the house is revealed in a signature American Horror Story fashion. Here's 10 horror movie references found in Roanoke, which you probably didn't notice.
9 The Shining
In Roanoke, Wes Bentley takes on the role of Ambrose White, son of Thomasin White who later is known as The Butcher. Despite betraying his mother who ruled over the Roanoke colony, he remains loyal to The Butcher, only having a change of heart at the very end. There's a very special scene where Ambrose strikingly resembles Jack Nicholson from The Shining as he strikes his ax into a door and then peers through it in that iconic fashion that made The Shining so popular.
There are a number of antagonists in Roanoke, which is why it's one of the better seasons in the series due to the sheer despair it inspires in us. Mama Polk is definitely not in the main spotlight, but she's still one frightening woman whose insanity is easily comparable to Annie Wilkes from Misery. This reference is even more evident with Mama Polk decides to strike Shelby's leg with a sledgehammer, a scene that perfectly mirrors the hobbling scene in Misery, in which Anne crushes Paul's ankles by propping a piece of wood between his legs.
7 The Grudge
The image of the cursed ghost with a pale face and long black hair is one that is constantly repeated in horror movies. However, nothing has made it quite as popular as The Grudge, where the mother of a murdered family haunts those who have stepped into her cursed house.
Similarly, in Roanoke, the Chen family ghost looks strikingly similar with her long black hair and bulging eyes. One could argue they also share a big similarity with The Ring due to how wet the ghost looks like, as though it has just risen from the pits of a haunted well.
6 Amityville Horror
Children in horror are a pretty common theme and for a reason. There's something particularly haunting about a child claiming to be playing with someone who simply doesn't exist. Flora, Lee's daughter in Roanoke, becomes attached to something within the house shortly as she steps in. This attachment is very similar to what we see in Amityville Horror, where Chelsea befriends the ghost of Jodie, the dead child of the DeFeos family. Movies like the Sixth Sense and The Orphanage also play with this idea to a degree, and Roanoke executes this trope to perfection, as we feel Lee's pain while searching for Flora when she's taken.
5 The Blair Witch Project
One of the most iconic horror movies out there is undoubtedly The Blair Witch Project, which takes a group of friends deep into the woods where strange stick figures and rock formations begin to torment them. The movie is so popular these stick figures that look like humans have become a staple element in many horror movies and series, and Roanoke is not any different.
In one of the scenes, Lee and Shelby find hundreds of stick figures hanging from the ceiling of the house, with no idea how they even got there and who made them. There's nothing more ominous than walking into a room full of these cursed things.
From Carrie to Saw, pigs and pig blood is another common horror element seen in many movies. However, perhaps most fitting to the Piggy Man seen in Roanoke, which can be summoned by calling its name three times, is the mask seen in the Saw movies.
This mask actually belongs to those who support Jigsaw and his agenda, which fits perfectly into Roanoke's theme as well, as it's the face of something that follows and torments you. Although it's not exactly the Bloody Mary, it's still terrifying to see a man wearing a decapitated pig head following you around like a trained killer.
3 Paranormal Survivor
While not exactly a movie, this is such an important reference that it would be a shame not to mention it on this list. Paranormal Survivor is a series which focuses on people's paranormal experiences, which are told and re-enacted to the audience. This is exactly the kind of style that My Roanoke Nightmare, the imaginary TV series within the Roanoke story copies and delivers perfectly. Characters are interviewed by the producers, and their experiences are recounted in the form of re-enactments. It's a nice, comedic way to tip the hat to all these paranormal TV shows we all like to call our guilty pleasures.
2 The Witch
While much of Roanoke's story takes place in the modern days, we also go back in time to find out what exactly gave birth to The Butcher and to the curse that haunts the lands of Roanoke. This throwback to the early colony days of America has exactly the same kind of vibe and atmosphere as The Witch, which came out on the same year, just months before Roanoke aired.
It's impossible whether the show found inspiration from the movie, but similar themes are all to be found: a secluded colony plagued by a mysterious witch and a girl who decides to swear her loyalty to these forces at the end. It all sounds like what Thomasin and her lost colony went through.
1 X-Files: Home
X-Files has given us tons of freaky episodes over the years and has definitely broken some rules and taboos when it comes to horror and science fiction. One of its most well-known episodes is called Home, which introduces us to a family of inbred rednecks living in a secluded, isolated community. This family, although with a different background story, has very much the same vibe and feel as the Polk family in Roanoke.
They keep to themselves and they hate any sort of outsiders coming in to stick their noses into their business. And they definitely have questionable morals.