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11 'American Horror Story: 1984' Theories That Delve Deep Into '80s Horror

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American Horror Story: 1984 premieres on FX on Sept. 18, but there's still so much fans don't know about the new season. There have been teasers and trailers, but they only offer vague hints that fans have to puzzle over to figure out the plot. This season follows a bunch of counselors being stalked by a masked killer at a summer camp, but this is American Horror Story; that can't be all there is to it. These 11 AHS: 1984 theories try to figure out what secrets the new season may hold.

The trailer for the season introduces a group of aerobics enthusiasts played by returning cast members Emma Roberts, Cody Fern, and Billie Lourd, as well as newbies DeRon Horton and Gus Kenworthy. They decide to take summer jobs together at Camp Redwood, but they end up with more than they bargained for. On the way to their first day, they run over someone with their van; as if that wasn't enough to haunt them, a patient named Mr. Jingles escapes from the nearby asylum with murder on the mind. That sets up an intriguing mix of storylines that could unfold in all manner of ways.

Executive producer Tim Minear refused to share any spoilers when he spoke about 1984 with The Wrap, though he did promise that "if you have a taste for '80s horror, you’re in for a treat." Without much more to go on, these fan theories do their best to figure this season out.

The Night Stalker

Some of the show's promos came in the form of screen tests that featured the characters walking to camera and showing off their costumes. Fans immediately noticed that Zach Villa's still-unnamed character bore a passing resemblance to serial killer Richard Ramirez, also known as the Night Stalker. Reddit user Rman823 pointed out that Ramirez's crimes began around the time the season is set, so it's possible he could be starting off his spree at this summer camp. Ramirez has appeared as a character on the show before, in AHS: Hotel, so it's not entirely implausible.

Run In With Ramirez

The extended trailer for the season hints at something painful lurking in the past of Emma Roberts' character Brooke. There's a flashback to her being attacked in her bedroom by a man with a knife, and Cody Fern's Xavier later mentions a "for real" encounter Brooke had with a killer. The flash of the man in Brooke's bedroom is quick, but it looks like it could be Richard Ramirez. It isn't clear enough to tell with any certainty, but the man has Ramirez's long hair and the same M.O. In real life, Ramirez broke into people's homes late at night, then burglarized, assaulted, or killed them, per CNN. It's possible Brooke is a survivor of the Night Stalker.

Masked Killer

Vanity Fair reported that Evan Peters wouldn't appear in Season 9, which was a shock because he'd been in every season since the start. Fans on Reddit suspected that the news was just a misdirect; they believed that Peters would show up at the very end, when he was revealed to be the masked killer. No one would be expecting it because he wasn't supposed to be in the season at all.

Hero Or Villain?

In most slasher movies, there is usually a "final girl" — the one person who survives the killer's attacks unscathed, and is signified by her clean-cut clothing and girl-next-door appearance. That fits Emma Roberts' styling this year to a tee, but Redditor milacamiim thought the show might subvert expectations by having Roberts play a surprise villain instead. A twist on the final girl has been done before (Freeform's Dead of Summer comes to mind), but Roberts is always good at playing an antagonist.

Double Roles

AHS has doubled up on roles before, often having the same actor play multiple characters within a single season. In AHS: Roanoke, each of the main characters was also portrayed by another actor in an in-universe TV show called My Roanoke Nightmare. Reddit user JW989 thought something similar might happen in Season 9. They suspected that several cast members might return to play older versions of the younger crew: Kathy Bates could play the older version of Leslie Grossman's character, Frances Conroy could play the older version of Roberts', etc. It would be one way to incorporate those beloved cast members, but we don't know enough about the season's structure this year to know if it has a chance of coming true.

1984

Some fans suspect that this season's subtitle isn't just the year the story takes place; it may also be a nod to George Orwell's famous book 1984, which concerned a dystopian future where the government (a.k.a. Big Brother) was always watching. Maybe AHS's title is a hint that there's more going on here than there seems. It might not be a simple slasher season. Viewers should probably anticipate a twist, as Redditor evolsoulx suggested: "I'm 90 percent sure that this is all taking place in a space station or Area 51 and it's being recorded, a la Cabin in the Woods."

Final Girl

Angelica Ross joins AHS this year after breaking all of our collective hearts on Pose, and fans expect big things for her character. Reddit user Danse_Society theorized that Roberts would be set up as the Final Girl, but as the season went on, it would actually be Ross. That would be a genuine subversion, and a good use of Ross' impressive talent.

Dream A Little Dream

Reddit user Kellerhouse noticed that the song playing over one of the promos was Dan Hartman's "I Can Dream About You," and there was also a dreamcatcher on a character's bedpost. That could be a clue that the season will have something to do with dreams, which might be a nod to 1984 horror film A Nightmare on Elm Street. Villain Freddy Krueger attacks via dreams in the film; perhaps Mr. Jingles has similar powers.

Virtual Reality

Many fans seem certain that there's a double meaning to this season's subtitle; it must have Orwellian significance. Redditor Frank_the_Bunneh put forth the idea that the season will actually take place in the future, within a video game. The characters are all avatars for real people, and one of them will be inspired to recreate the game murders in real life. It would give AHS a touch of Black Mirror, while packing the cast with as many actors as possible. AHS does love to do that.

Another Side To Margaret

Camp Redwood is still recovering from a massacre that occurred on its grounds years prior. Those killings were pinned on Mr. Jingles, but Reddit user Dr_Shroomin speculated that Leslie Grossman's character Margaret Booth was actually the killer. She'd slaughtered her fellow campers because they never accepted her. She got away with it by blaming Mr. Jingles, then went on to reopen the camp years later — and perhaps start her spree all over again. Mr. Jingles broke out of the asylum to stop her. It would be a neat surprise to have the antagonist be the hero, and Grossman would certainly relish a character with so many unexpected twists.

Showtime

More than one viewer on Reddit had their curiosity piqued by the screen test format of the AHS: 1984 promos. Users investigator838272 and ohstephen thought that might mean the season wasn't set at summer camp, but during the filming of a movie about summer camp. AHS has explored similar meta ideas before, with Roanoke and actress Bubbles McGee in Apocalypse. It might feel slightly repetitive for AHS to use the idea of a show within a show again, but it's not out of the realm of possibility.

Anything can happen on American Horror Story; the show has proven that throughout its run. But until the premiere airs, fans can only speculate about what this new season may hold.

AHS: 1984 airs Wednesdays on FX.