The newest season of American Horror Story is underway, and fans are loving the Rosemary’s Baby vibe that it’s giving off so far. But how scary will it be compared to previous seasons? That remains to be seen, but in the meantime, here are some of the scariest seasons of the show yet.
Asylum (Season 2)
American Horror Story: Asylum was the second season of the show, so fans initially weren’t sure if the new cast and setting would measure up to the well-regarded first season. Fortunately, Ryan Murphy and the cast nailed it, and Asylum ended up being one of the most frightening seasons of the show.
Asylum takes place in a mental institution in the 1960s, and its oppressive atmosphere and disturbing themes were enough to make fans ready for as many seasons as possible.
American Horror Story: Asylum, as always, had a top-notch cast that included Zachary Quinto, Joseph Fiennes, Sarah Paulson, Evan Peters, Lily Rabe, Lizzie Brocheré, James Cromwell, and Jessica Lange, many of whom returned from the previous season in new roles.
The 1960s setting is also perfectly realized, giving us a period piece on top of a very scary season. If you’re looking for something creepy, Asylum will certainly fit the bill.
Roanoke (Season 6)
American Horror Story: Roanoke is most known for its bold move of changing the typical format of the series, splitting the season between a true crime-style documentary and a found footage format that depicts the doomed production of the documentary’s sequel.
However, the format switch-up doesn’t take away from the fright factor. If anything, it ups the ante as it makes the stories seem more real than your typical season of the show.
The first half of American Horror Story: Roanoke shows us a documentary of a re-enactment of the sinister, supernatural experiences of a married couple who live in a haunted house in North Carolina.
After the documentary, it switches to the found footage half of the season with the documentary crew. Kathy Bates, Sarah Paulson, Cuba Gooding JrLily Rabe, Andre Holland, Denis O’Hare, Wes Bentley, Evan Peters, Cheyenne Jackson, and Angela Bassett all bring their A-game, and the blurred lines between fiction and reality easily make this one of the show’s scariest seasons.
Murder House (Season 1)
American Horror Story came hot out of the gate with its inaugural season. Murder House sets the tone for the series and gives us the story of a family who moves to a house after facing the turmoil of a miscarriage and infidelity in their marriage.
Unfortunately, things get worse for the family when they’re haunted by the previous residents of the house and the victims they murdered there.
American Horror Story: Murder House is highly unsettling throughout, with the direction giving the viewer a sense of always being watched. The blend of psychological and supernatural horror is something the series would continue using to good effect in future seasons.
The cast was also fantastic and included Connie Britton, Dylan McDermott, Evan Peters, Taissa Farmiga, Denis O’Hare, Kate Mara, Zachary Quinto, and Jessica Lange, many of whom would return for future seasons.
Freak Show (Season 4)
The fourth season of American Horror Story would be the first to break the series’ anthological tradition, as it featured returning characters from the second season. Freak Show featured Lily Rabe, Naomi Grossman, and James Cromwell all reprising their roles from Asylum.
Starring Sarah Paulson, Evan Peters, Michael Chiklis, Frances Conroy, Denis O’Hare, Emma Roberts, Finn Wittrock, Angela Bassett, Kathy Bates, and Jessica Lange, the season would follow the so-called “freaks” of one of the last remaining freak shows in the United States.
The creepy circus setting would make American Horror Story: Freak Show scary enough to be on the list, but the way the story preys on the viewers’ fears of being an outcast and the portrayal of the exploitation of the “freaks” adds an extra layer of existential fear and dread.
Visually, the show is as sharp as ever, and every frame drips with creepy style. It’s one of the most remembered seasons of the show and should provide you with plenty of thrills and fear.
Cult (Season 7)
Finally, American Horror Story: Cult manages to stand out as one of the scariest seasons by virtue of tapping into real-world fears. The series focused on the aftermath of the 2016 US Presidential election and showed residents of a fictional suburb in Michigan terrorized by a creepy cult. The themes of extremism and cult mentalities made the season particularly unsettling.
People who are afraid of clowns will surprisingly find a lot to be afraid of in this season, too, as one of the main characters has a fear of clowns, aka coulrophobia. The season also starred a pared-down ensemble cast that included Sarah Paulson, Evan Peters, Cheyenne Jackson, Billie Lourd, and Alison Pill.
While American Horror Story: Cult may not have the ghosts and supernatural horrors of some previous seasons, its reflections of the real world certainly make it scary enough to be included on this list.