If you haven’t yet seen American Horror Story, you’re missing out. The critically acclaimed US series is produced by Ryan Murphy, aka the genius behind Glee, The People vs. OJ Simpson and Feud. It’s also known for attracting brilliant actors to its cast, from Chloë Sevigny, Kathy Bates and Lady Gaga to Emma Roberts, Joseph Fiennes and Jessica Lange (who won a Golden Globe and two Emmy awards for her appearances in the first and third seasons).
Each season of the critically acclaimed US series is entirely self-contained, focusing on a different terrifying theme. Season one (Murder House) tells the story of a family that moves into a haunted house, season two (Asylum) is set in a Sixties institution for the criminally insane, season three (Coven) focuses on a group of witches in New Orleans… You get the idea. Trust us: if you want to be scared witless this autumn, you could do a lot worse.
And the new trailer for season seven of American Horror Story looks scarier than ever. Given the series title Cult, it begins in Michigan on the night of 8 November, 2016, as the US – and the world – waited to hear the results of the presidential election.
As the results of the election are announced and Donald Trump’s grinning face swims into view on the TV, Ally Mayfair-Richards (played by the always-excellent Sarah Paulson) has the same response as many of us: she screams in horror, her knees almost buckling beneath her in shock.
Over the course of the trailer, Ally is seen battling with mental health issues including agoraphobia, an anxiety disorder and coulrophobia (fear of clowns). She sees clowns where nobody else can see them, raging and sobbing hysterically when her partner Ivy (Alison Pill) tries to comfort her. And she finds that her overwhelming sense of dread has only heightened since Trump’s victory. “Since election night it has all been getting so much worse,” she tells her therapist.
However, not everyone shares Ally’s terror. Kai Anderson (Evan Peters) is delighted with the election result, and seems to revel in the sense of fear that Trump’s win has created. “If you keep people scared enough, they will set the world on fire,” he tells Winter, played by Billie Lourd (daughter of the late Carrie Fisher).
Winter reveals that her own biggest fear is children – which is great, seeing as she then gets a job as Ally and Ivy’s nanny and starts bringing creepy doll toys into their house. Really great. Not terrifying at all.
Lena Dunham and Emma Roberts will also appear in American Horror Story: Cult, although it’s not yet known what their roles will entail.
In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter in June, Murphy explained why he chose to focus on the US election for the seventh season of his horror show.
“It is a true American horror story, and we’re leaning into it,” he said. “[Next season’s] American Horror Story begins with election night and the national conversation and both the euphoria and the fear.”
Murphy also explained how he ensures his actors don’t feel afraid on set.
“One thing I always do is just tell actors that I'm as afraid as they are, because I can sense that and I feel it, too,” he said, adding: “I am now at a point where I'm only interested in doing stuff that scares me because that's where the goodness comes from.”
American Horror Story: Cult airs on FX in the US on 5 September, and will be available to watch on Sky soon after.