First Impressions

American Horror Story: Hotel

Aired on: FX

Reviewed by Melissa Minners


            I enjoyed American Horror Story: Coven and wanted to like American Horror Story: Freak Show, but I never really could get into the story and it lost me.  Along comes a new year and a new season of American Horror Story.  This time the horror takes place in a hotel and from the promotional ads Iíve seen, things just got a whole lot stranger.

            American Horror Story: Hotel takes place in the city of Los Angeles.  Though there are scenes that take place in other areas around the city, much of the show focuses on the Hotel Cortez, an old hotel hosting all sorts of bizarre occupants.  We are first introduced to the hotel when two Swedish women rent a room for the night and soon discover there is a decaying monster sewn into their mattress.  Waiting to speak with police, the women are taken to Room 64, a room that Desk Clerk Iris (Kathy Bates) assures them is never rented.  The girls soon discover there is a very special reason as to why.

            Meanwhile, Homicide Detective John Lowe (Wes Bentley) is on the track of a serial killer who savagely butchers his victims, leaving clues as to the nature of the killing that eventually label him as the Ten Commandments Killer.  Detective Lowe is an intense officer, but one gets the feeling that there is something else going on behind the need to solve a crime.  In fact, we eventually learn that Detective Lowe and his wife (ChloŽ Sevigny) and daughter (Shree Crooks) are going through a difficult period in their lives.  Loweís son Holden (Lennon Henry) has been missing since his father took him on a spin on the Merry Go Round at the Santa Monica Pier a few years ago and the family has never really recovered.

            When a call comes in to Detective Lowe from the Ten Commandments Killer about his next kill mentions the Hotel Cortez, Room 64, Detective Lowe is on the case.  He finds nothing of significance in the room, even though viewers are witness to a monstrous rape and murder by The Addiction Demon and his accomplice Sally (Sarah Paulson).  What he does see is a young boy who looks like his son running through the halls of the hotel.  Before he can catch up with him, the boy disappears.  When the Ten Commandments Killer threatens the safety of his family, Detective Lowe moves in to Room 64, we presume as both a way to taunt the serial killer and as a way to be closer to that little boy who looks so much like the one he lost.

            Of course, throughout, we are introduced to a whole slew of interesting characters like The Countess (Lady Gaga) and her boyfriend Donovan (Matt Bomer) who have a taste for sexÖand blood.  We learn that The Countess is in charge of the establishment and that Donovan is actually Irisí son, a drug addict who came to the Hotel Cortez in the mid-1990s, but never leftÖalive, that is.  Oh, and then there is newcomer Will Drake (Cheyenne Jackson), the new owner of the establishment, an artist that The Countess canít wait to sink her teeth into.

            All sorts of death and debauchery await us this season as one can suppose just from the bloody, sex-filled, goriness that was the hour and a half long season premiere on FX on October 7, 2015.  What can I say about this season of American Horror Story?  Well, I was surprised to see Lady Gaga taking on a much larger role in the series than I expected.  I was equally surprised to see that sheís not that bad an actress - some singers/artists are just not equal to the task, but Gaga hitís the mark well and fits in perfectly.  Thatís not to say that I really enjoyed what I was watching. 

            American Horror Story will always be bizarre and gory - thatís its claim to fame.  The fact that it strives to be even gorier and more bizarre year after year is something that I suppose should be commended.  After all, we donít want our audience bored by the same thing each season, right?  And I do like the idea of using a hotel - whatís scarier than an old hotel with a history, right?  And the idea of the theme - addiction in all of its sick and perverse forms - is interesting.  But thatís where the likes end. 

            I was put off by the gratuitous sex scenes laced with gore.  I was put off by the serial killerís monstrous posing of his victims.  Normally, I am fine with this brand of horror, but this time around, I was not in the least bit impressed with either the reason for all the gore or the characters and their storylines.  Something that I found that grabbed me with Coven just isnít present in the other seasons of American Horror Story and thatís the draw of the characters.  I latched on to the characters in Coven right away, but for some reason canít feel the same need to know what happensÖor happened as the case may beÖto the characters in American Horror Story: Hotel.  And that is why I wonít be following this series, though I wish the die-hard fans of the show luck that things will eventually improve as the season moves forward.


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