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Thursday, October 8, 2015
American Horror Story 5x01 Checking In
|By Sati.||Thursday, October 8, 2015||American Horror Story - Hotel|
The story is set at Hotel Cortez - gorgeous, art deco styled establishment, where a lot of very creepy things lurk around. We enter the building along with two Swedish girls. Soon they will discover a monster sewed into a mattress, two bloodsucking children, blood stained sheets and Kathy Bates trying to force feed them stuff to make them taste better. And that's not even scratching the surface of Hotel's mysteries.
The first thing that stoke me when I was watching the episode was how different it felt from other seasons of the show - this one is more about the mood and atmosphere than it is about the story. Long tracking shots, fish lens shots and basically very surreal feel is what defines this episode. We walk the hallways along with the characters unsure of what the hell we are gonna see in another corridor.
But there is a story too - a detective played by Wes Bentley is a family man, whose son was abducted. He is also hunting a serial killer who is killing his victims based on Ten Commandments. We get to the crime scene which contains the most disgusting and gruesome thing on the show yet - a couple, who was cheating on their respective spouses, was killed. She was impaled. And the guy? Well, his eyeballs and tongue were ripped off and put into an ashtray. And his penis is still inside the girl, glued it. And the worst part? Oh, yes. He is still alive.
But that's not even the scene people seem to be freaking out about the most - a junkie checks into hotel. Soon the wonderful Sarah Paulson shows up, finally playing an evil character - Sally. And what follows is Sally tormenting the guy while he is being anally raped by a demon with a drill for a penis. Yeah, that episode is probably a tough watch for men.
It's not until well into the episode when Lady Gaga appears and what a scene it is - very clearly inspired by the beginning of Hunger and set to the fantastic track Tear You Apart by She Wants Revenge Gaga is accompanied by ridiculously gorgeous Matt Bomer, who was so underused in last season of the show, as they go out to pick up a couple. What follows is a steamy sex scene between the four of them that ends with Gaga and Bomer murdering the couple and drinking their blood.
We get to see Matt Bomer, wearing a leather glove, smoking a cigarette, completely naked and bathed in blood. I just want to take a moment and say - thank you, Ryan Murphy. You bring so much joy to the world with this.
The season's story is still a bit unclear - who is the big bad? Is it Gaga's Countess who drinks blood and abducts children? Is it the killer? Or is something we haven't seen yet? What makes this season different from others is that we don't really have, apart from Bentley's character and his wife (played by Chloe Sevigny) truly innocent people. But given how mischievous Murphy is he is probably gonna make us feel for those who inhabit the hotel.
Kathy Bates' character is given a bit of depth in the premiere - she is a receptionist and at first she seems to be a villain but then, in a flashback to 1994 we find out her character is Donovan's (Matt Bomer) mother. Turns out Donovan is a junkie and his dealer is Sally. Bates follows them into hotel and what follows is a very thinly veiled mystery - Sally is pushed to her death by her, yet we saw her walking around years later. Given how her and Donovan were sharing a needle while injecting drugs, there's probably some sort of immortality virus at play here.
We also get a nice little tie in to season 1 when a realtor, Marcy, shows up talking about having to put down her dog - no doubt the one who belonged to the Harmons - and showing the hotel to potential buyer who I'm sure the Countess is gonna either murder or manipulate.
The biggest asset of the show - apart from truly beautiful production design and great music (the score this season is so atmospheric and the selection of songs, from another homage to Hunger in Bela Lugosi's Dead to brilliant use of Hotel California, is better than ever) is the acting. And Sarah Paulson is yet again stealing the show, threatening to top her work from Asylum. She is completely unpredictable and clearly has a lot of fun playing a dark role this time.
Denis O'Hare is brilliant as always as a cross dresser nicknamed Liz Taylor and Kathy Bates is solid as usual. But everyone is wondering about how Gaga did and I though she did very well. She is well suited for a mysterious, larger than life character and her presence is not jarring, given how the screen time seems evenly spread between the characters.
All in all this is a very good opener and I'm excited to see where it goes from here - hopefully it will be more like the show's first two seasons which were great from start to finish and not follow the steps of Coven and Freakshow - both entertaining and well done, but ultimately disappointing and a bit of a missed opportunity.