The series’s first full trailer reveals that Ryan Murphy has found the one thing more Horror Story horrifying than any of his favorite actor’s previous roles.
well, he did it. Since American Horror Story first debuted, Ryan Murphy has reveled in making his fans squirm as much as possible—especially Evan Peters devotees. Almost every season, the horror maestro has given his favorite actor a role that subverts the performer’s innate charm—challenging those who have mild to severe crushes on Peters to overcome, say, the fact that he’s a serial killer, or an incoherent frat-boy Frankenstein’s monster, or an art-obsessed maniac in a powdered wig. This time, however, it seems he’s discovered a role that many of Peters’s fans might find even more repulsive: according to the season’s first trailer, it looks like Peters will play a crazed Donald Trump fan–or, at the very least, someone who is very happy that Trump won.
The back of Peters’s greasy, blue-maned head is the first shot fans see in the trailer, which was released on the show’s Web site on Tuesday. As promised, it seems the season kicks off in Detroit, Michigan, on election night, 2016. As seen in the trailer, two central characters of the season—Peters’s Kai and Sarah Paulson’s Ally—have very different reactions to the news of Trump’s victory. Ally wails in terror; Kai screams, metal music blaring in the background, and pelvic thrusts into his TV.
Will Peters fans be able to handle this development? Even his charisma might be no match for this role.
Ally’s mental state appears to deteriorate in the wake of the election; she confesses to her therapist (Cheyenne Jackson’s Dr. Rudy Vincent) that her fear of clowns has been getting worse. Kai, meanwhile, appears to be leading some kind of cult, as some fans suspected—and one of his recruits seems to be Billie Lourd’s Winter Anderson. Winter confesses to Kai that children are her No. 1 fear, but in the next frame she’s interviewing for a job to babysit Ally and Ivy’s (Alison Pill) son, whom she gives a doll of Twisty the Clown. It seems, based on an introductory video, that members of this cult can “keep” each other’s fears through physical contact. (Pinky to pinky, specifically.)
Several key characters still appear to be missing from this trailer: returning players Adina Porter, Frances Conroy, Mare Winningham, Emma Roberts, and Chaz Bono are nowhere to be seen, and neither are Billy Eichner, Leslie Grossman, Colton Haynes, or Lena Dunham. (Perhaps they were some of the scary people Paulson saw in clown masks?) But don’t be too quick to assume that Paulson’s character is the protagonist; it appears that at some point, she’s got a corpse hanging in the freezer of her restaurant.
Either way, it seems that Cult will examine the mass hysteria on both sides of the political aisle. (As Kai says, “If you get people scared enough, they will set the world on fire.”) The modern setting and focus—a family facing terrifying circumstances—is territory that Murphy knows well, but it appears that this season might have its sights on a grander theme. How, exactly, this will tie in with Twisty the Clown, who appears to have become posthumously famous, we’ll have to wait and find out.