It’s check in time!
We lived in the Murder House… escaped the Asylum… protected the Coven and went to the Freak Show… and now it’s time to check in at the Hotel!
And it looks like a right nice place to stay…
Returning for its fifth season, American Horror Story has become one of my favourite TV shows. Seasons past delved into classic story arcs of horror- the haunted house, the deranged mental asylum, witchcraft and in a nod to Tod Browning, carnivals and freak shows. The show has had its ups and downs, as the majority of TV shows do from season to season. American Horror Story has always been all about the surface — paper-thin in terms of ideas and drama but drenched in creepy atmosphere, peekaboo depravity, multiple story arcs, style over substance… sheer escapism for the casual horror fan. Hotel promises to keep the depravity and appears to have dropped the voluptuous melodrama of Freak Show and Coven, (the season of the witch being my FAVOURITE season!) instead favouring burlesque art deco pseudo-horror with hints of David Lynch, Stanley Kubrick and David Fincher stylisation thrown into the septic tank mix.
“The upcoming season that we’re doing is much more horror-based; it’s much more dark. It’s about a theme and an idea that’s very close to my heart that I’ve always wanted to do that’s a little bloodier and grislier I think than anything that we’ve done before; it’s straight horror this year.” – Ryan Murphy
The creators of the American Horror Story franchise, Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk, seem to enjoy creating new worlds and shows rather than sticking with them — so sometimes, a good start doesn’t always result in a satisfying ultimate conclusion. But the one-season length of American Horror Story seems to suit them just fine, and it’s impossible to wander through this first hour of Hotel without wondering, with great expectation, just what else is behind some of those doors. For this audaciously designed anthology series, this is the most visually arresting and twisted one yet — and given the history of American Horror Story, that’s both a compliment, and a warning.
For much of this year’s opener, Lady Gaga glides through without speaking, like the shimmering star of a silent horror film. She even watches one, by going to an outdoor movie in a cemetery, where hipster locals picnic near graves while watching Nosferatu. But when the Countess finally does speak, showing a young boy around some of the more hidden parts of her hotel, she makes quite a chilling impact.
With Jessica Lange taking a break from the show, only time will tell if Gaga can really take on and pull off the part of leading Lady with the style, glamour and evil charm that will be missing with Lange’s absence. Fans of the show will be delighted to know that the majority of familiar faces are returning alongside some supporting stars stepping up to become season regulars:
Lady Gaga as The Countess
Finn Wittrock as Tristan Duffy
Matt Bomer as Donovan
Mare Winningham as Miss Evers
Chloe Sevigny as Alex Lowe
Denis O’Hare as Liz Taylor
Cheyenne Jackson as Will Drake
Wes Bentley as John Lowe
Evan Peters as Mr March
Kathy Bates as Iris
Sarah Paulson as Sally
Angela Bassett as Ramona
There have been rumours of Lily Rabe returning to play infamous serial killer Aileen Wuronos, alongside an appearance by supermodel Naomi Campbell and also a story arc mirroring the weird and tragic real life death of Elisa Lam at the Cecil Hotel in Los Angeles. The mysterious real estate agent from season 1, Marcy, played by Christine Estabrook makes her return to the show in a role that will begin to show the mythological link between each season!
I’m really looking forward to seeing how the fifth season of American Horror Story plays out especially since Ryan Murphy’s other TV horror project, Scream Queens, has just hit the screens.
In a time where TV horror has become mainstream, popular, the norm… here’s hoping that Hotel packs enough punch to rise to the top!