American Horror Story’s 10 Scariest Settings, Ranked

Ameerican Horror Story Murder House In Apocalypse

American Horror Story has transported audiences to several terrifying locations throughout the series run. American Horror Story is an anthology horror series that was first released in 2012 and has since grown to become one of the best known horror or anthology shows of all time. The series dives into new settings, stories, and characters with each new season, with some of the core cast returning to play a different role, but largely this changes between seasons as well.

However, as the show continually strives to strike fear into the hearts of its viewers, the creators, Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk, need to keep coming back with new ideas. Despite the challenge, the series has featured some absolutely incredible settings that prove to be just as dark and twisted as the stories that play out. Ranging from the nostalgic feel of the classic 1980s slasher movies, to the dark and decrepit asylum, there are plenty of great settings in each new season.

10. Camp Redwood

American Horror Story AHS 1984 Camp Redwood

Coming in at number 10, the first entry may be in last place, but in terms of providing nightmare fuel, it certainly isn’t the least of the series. Camp Redwood was the main setting featured in AHS season 9. The entire season was created to pay homage to the classic slasher movies of the 1980s, and there were several clear links back to those nostalgic horrors. Camp Redwood serves as a sort of reimagining of Camp Crystal Lake from Friday the 13th.

The story is remarkably similar to the Jason Voorhees horror franchise as well, but nonetheless, the setting stands out. Camp Redwood has been reopened after a brutal massacre swept through the camp 14 years earlier. Despite the gruesome history, there are a few people who choose to send kids to the newly reopened camp, and so some counselors are hired to help facilitate. However, the creepy sensation that this place is still haunted by the murders of long ago hangs heavy in the air.

9. Brookfield Heights, Michigan

American horror story cult AHS butchery on main

Brookfield Heights is the primary setting for the events of AHS season 7, subtitled Cult. While the town initially appears to be quaint and ordinary, it quickly sheds the appearance of normalcy and reveals its dark underbelly. From brutal murders and violent crimes, Brookfield Heights is far from a safe little suburb. This is further intensified with the reveal that the town is plagued by a gang of masked people in clown suits who carry out several terrible crimes.

What makes Brookfield Heights so terrifying is how unassuming it appears at first. It’s designed to be like an average town, with average neighborhoods and average people, but behind closed doors, there is nothing average about it. The town is also rapidly descending into madness as a young man becomes a political candidate and acquires the vast majority of support within his community for his brutal honesty, and his clear and direct way of speaking. Although this largely just means he is cruel and extreme in his views.

8. Wasteland Apocalypse

AHS American Horror Story Apocalypse The Hawthorne School Outpost 3

Just one step above the town of Brookfield Heights, the apocalyptic wasteland depicted in American Horror Story season 8 is a hellscape from an alternate future. With the world in ruins after an all-out nuclear war, there are few people who have survived and even fewer places that remain intact to house them. Seeing formerly populated areas covered in sand, dirt and debris is a harrowing image, but what lies inside the bunkers is potentially even more terrifying.

Those who have survived are the rare few who have a chance to start again and rebuild the world in their own image. However, many of the people there have no interest in such things, and simply want to live out the rest of their days drinking and celebrating the end of life itself. The world, the people, and the remaining bunkers all provide a harrowing view of an apocalyptic future that is far bleaker than anything that came before.

7. Haunted Hotel

American Horror Story's Hotel Cortez

In AHS season 5, the series moved into the beautiful and regal Hotel Cortez. This hotel is incredibly beautiful and well situated in the heart of Los Angeles. However, the hotel has more than a few dirty little secrets. The hotel appears to have more ghosts and monsters than it does people, and throughout the season, the reality of this imbalance of power becomes more and more apparent.

From vampires, to ghosts of former serial killers, and other non-descript monsters, the hotel is overrun with violent and terrifying beings. It is also terrifying due to the unusual layout and secret passages and rooms built by the man who first owned the site. As it turns out, he was also a murderer, and hoped to use the hotel to indulge in his guilty pleasures of committing terrible crimes of passion and violence.

6. Murder House

The AHS Murder House in pristine shape

Then, in the first season, the haunting is brought down to a smaller scale, but potentially even more terrifying, as dozens of ghosts occupy a single property. The aptly named Murder House is the subject of the first season, and over the course of 12 episodes, the dark and terrible history of the home is revealed. Again, there have been serial killers, crimes of passion, evil devil worshiping individuals, and a malicious doctor who have all occupied the home, or killed and died there. These malevolent spirits are then trapped in the house, unable to escape, and so they find ways to entertain themselves by toying with any new occupants. The home, a place which should be a hub of security and happiness, becomes the stuff of nightmares, and the final resting place for many unwitting victims.

5. Roanoke House

American Horror Story Roanoke car

While the Murder House is undeniably terrifying, it is located within an established area, with neighbors and people who could potentially help. In AHS season 6, the Roanoke House provides no such comforts. Located in the middle of a large forest, this home became the subject of a documentary due to the numerous horrifying events that happened there and in the surrounding woods. The home was incredibly isolated, and possessed by demonic spirits.

When a young couple moved into the property, they hoped to start a life together there and find joy and solace in a space that belonged to them. Instead, it ripped them apart, and left them traumatized for life. From terrifying hauntings, to the property being surrounded by a mysterious and violent cult, the Roanoke House is one of the most terrifying settings for the show.

4. Provincetown, Massachusetts


While AHS season 10 gets a lot of grief over the double feature format and the lack of expanding either story, the first six episodes, subtitled Red Tide, created an incredibly dark and eerie atmosphere in the fictional vacation hub, Provincetown, Massachusetts. In the off season, the town is almost desolate, and all that remains appears monstrous and secretive. Shuffling through the streets, there are individuals who no longer appear or behave human, and it is utterly chilling.

As the episodes play out, the reasons for this unusual atmosphere are revealed, but it only confirms the twisted nature of Provincetown and those who live there. Despite being a popular spot for creatives pursuing their masterpieces, it is also plagued with drug abuse and terrible secrets. From beginning to end, the town is one of the most intense and terrifying settings of the entire series.

3. Freak Show

acnh carnival american horror story freakshow

AHS season 4 explored the colorful and twisted world of the Freak Show. A group of social outcasts create a life for themselves away from those who conform and neatly fit in with polite society. Instead, these individuals, with their unusual bodies, growths, mutations and adaptations have found solace together. The community stand up for one another, and they find ways to be at peace, away from prying eyes.

However, these people are also grouped together in order to form a Freak Show, which puts them on display in front of those same prying eyes. In order to earn money, they must perform, like animals, entertaining the crowd and earning their money through disgraced spectacle. As if that wasn’t degrading enough, this season also features a museum with a cabinet of curiosities that puts their disfigurements on display once the individuals have died, or, as it is more often the case, been killed.

2. Roanoke Forest

Roanoke-Thomasin-White Cropped

Returning to season 6 briefly and the Roanoke story, the world that exists outside that isolated home is even more terrifying than what exists within the house. The forest is haunted by spirits and creatures that are ancient and evil. They seek blood and violence against those who trespass there, and through dark and mystical means, they force outsiders to act in bizarre and twisted ways.

The forest swallows up children, abducts men from their homes, and exposes a dark and demonic side to an angry mob. The idea of a dark forest is scary on its own, but by incorporating all of these other details, it becomes truly evil. It also means that the people within the boundaries of the forest have great difficulty escaping alive, as the forest appears to be alive and actively working against them.

1. The Asylum

American Horror Story Asylum Arden death

However, the most terrifying setting to appear on American Horror Story has to be the Asylum, which is the primary setting for season 2. Briarcliff Manor stands as an abandoned asylum which attracts ghost hunters and thrill seekers. However, upon visiting the site, they encounter vile monsters that leave them permanently scarred or dead. However, the season goes back in time to when Briarcliff was still in operation, and outlines the terrifying events that took place in that place.

From illegal experimentation on the patients, to abuse by the religious zealots who managed the institute, Briarcliff was never a safe place for anyone. Over the course of American Horror Story season 2, multiple monstrous figures are all revealed who have some power and sway within Briarcliff, and all of these people abuse and harass the patients and staff in various ways. The show may get darker or more gruesome in other seasons, but Briarcliff’s asylum remains the most terrifying setting of the entire show.

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