A day after Ryan Murphy’s Comic-Con reveal of the title and premiere date of American Horror Story: Cult comes this clown-heavy teaser, loaded with creepy – or rather twisty – images for fans to decode.
The spot opens with a six-sided symbol spray-painted on a red and black banner or flag, then cuts to a bunch of arms reaching toward a lone, disembodied head. Then come the clowns, a great, big, red-nosed legion of them, most dressed in black Pierrot garb, bald white domes and Alice Cooper eyes. One’s carrying a mallet.
Mixed among the throng is a punky blue-haired woman – the floating head from the beginning, apparently – who seems to have taken the advice of the deep-voiced narrator and joined the cult. “Are you afraid?” asks the voice. “We can set you free. We will make you strong. We want you.”
Internet chatter theorizes that the clown cult is a call-back to American Horror Story: Freak Show‘s horrific Twisty the Clown, the disfigured sadist played by John Carrol Lynch. Murphy all but confirmed the connection with this Instagram post earlier this month:
The teaser also plays into the 2016 clown craze, when numerous reports of scary sightings – many later debunked – spread from the United States across the globe.
FX sends in the clowns when AHS: Cult debuts Tuesday, September 5. Cast includes Sarah Paulson, Evan Peters, Billie Lourd, Billy Eichner, Cheyenne Jackson, Alison Pill, Colton Haynes and Adina Porter. Lena Dunham also has been announced for the season.