American Horror Story: 1984 is an '80s fever dream — almost suspiciously so. Frankly, it feels as though someone's trying to hammer the '80s into viewers with brute force. While this decade's vibe could be signature AHS camp, it might also be an indicator that the first few episodes of 1984 are a movie or a season inside a season, serving us with meta horror à la Wes Craven's New Nightmare and throwing us back to My Roanoke Nightmare.
Let's break down the rampant '80s aesthetics. The intro credits, as Reddit user Hannahk23 explained, look like they were pulled from an '80s VHS tape. We see forward and rewind buttons, as well as neon colors galore in the typography and costume design. Heck, the first few episodes have a distinctly grainy, shot-on-film look to them as well. It all feels incredibly deliberate, as if the producers want us to know that we're watching an '80s movie.
In a separate thread, Reddit user alost-girl noted that the entire '80s vibe is very over the top, as though modern-day studios were trying to make an '80s movie or show. They also pointed out that the Night Stalker doesn't look like the real-life Night Stalker. His teeth are too perfect, like those of a conventionally attractive movie star. So we might just be seeing actors portraying characters on screen, and the narrative could shift halfway through the season to segue out of this movie plot.
But that's not all — the season could get even more meta. The series could break the fourth wall even further than the dramatized acting situation in My Roanoke Nightmare does. In season five, Shelby and her actress Audrey exist in the context of a made-up world with a reality horror show. Here, the idea is that the context is FX's American Horror Story itself in our real world. The cast could actually be playing fictionalized versions of themselves working on the set of 1984. Emma Roberts, for example, could be playing a fictionalized Emma Roberts. Mind-blowing, we know!
The feel this season, as alost-girl explained, is very similar to that of the 1994 movie New Nightmare. In that film, Freddy Krueger comes to life in the real world and torments the cast and crew behind A Nightmare on Elm Street after the original movie and its sequels capture an ancient supernatural entity on film. This fun theory tracks, as 1984 is also the year that A Nightmare on Elm Street came out. Maybe, instead of Freddy Krueger, we'll see a "real" Mr. Jingles or Night Stalker. Or maybe we'll even see Papa Legba from Coven, which yielded creepy on-set experiences for Taissa Farmiga and Gabourey Sidibe. If the season doesn't get quite this meta, we'd still be down if it turns out that Madison Montgomery is portraying Brooke Thompson in a movie. Madison would kill an ancient demon in a jiffy.
In any case, we can bet on AHS: 1984 revealing something big soon. Since we're seeing the 100th episode of the series this season, Ryan Murphy's team is bound to go big on the universe building in the upcoming episodes. After all, what's a season of American Horror Story if it doesn't gleefully go off the rails halfway through?