Though lots of critics, reviewers, and bloggers lambasted the premiere episode of FX’s American Horror Story: Hotel — the fifth installment of the anthology series written by Brad Falchuck and Ryan Murphy — I thought the premiere episode of Hotel was a violent, intense, somewhat bizarre but fascinating mélange of a new “horror story” blended with allusions to famous horror films and to the past seasons of its own franchise. Unfortunately, we’re now half-way through the season, and nothing new has happened. Every single episode features the same plot events, with increasing gore.
Gratuitous and egregious gore.
Never have I seen a show with such a promising premiere fall off the cliff so quickly and so precipitously.
The Hotel’s Guests
It’s hard to care about any of the characters, even though the writers seem to be trying to give them some kind of story before they end up at the Hotel Cortez, where they “can check out but never leave.”
I don’t care that the Countess Elizabeth (Lady Gaga), who looks gorgeous in just about every scene, even when she’s covered with blood, wants to marry the hotel’s new owner because Bernie Madoff stole all her money and she’s no longer rich.
Not only has the new hotel owner, who seemed to be some kind of fashion designer, disappeared from the show, as has his son, I laughed aloud that they’d put Gaga — I mean, the Countess — who’s a vampire, in the clutches of Bernie Madoff and that, furthermore, she hadn’t slit his throat with her sparkly glove after he stole all her money, as she’s done basically each week with someone new.
I find myself not caring about all the children the Countess has kidnapped to make her weird vampire family.
It didn’t even move me that one of those kidnapped children is Dr. Alex’s (Chloë Sevingny) and Detective John’s (Wes Bentley) missing son, Holden.
After the Countess changed Alex, she discovered that she gets to be with Holden forever. In the glass coffin with him in the empty swimming pool. It was a creepy, pedophilia-like scene, with that look on Alex’s face as she gazed on the little boy she’s going to be “sleeping with.”
Yucky-ness to the max.
Who are all the other kids?
I don’t believe anybody cared that the snobby fashion editor (Naomi Campbell) got killed, not even Naomi Campbell herself.
It probably didn’t matter to anyone except Donovan (Matt Bomer) that the Countess replaced him
with the self-absorbed fashion model (Finn Witrock).
Nobody cared that the supposedly heart-broken Donovan, after treating his mother Iris (Kathy Bates) like garbage for weeks, suddenly felt remorse after Iris let Sally (Sarah Paulson) give her an OD so that she could die.
Then Donovan felt so sorry — for himself — that he turned his mother into a vampire so she’ll be in the Hotel with him forever.
Immediately afterward, he seemed to completely forget Iris while he looked up another discarded lover of the Countess, Ramona (Angela Bassett).
The Hotel’s Designer/Builder
The Hotel was originally designed and built by some rich, psycho serial killer (Evan Peters) who murdered his victims and shoved them all down hidden chutes in the hotel. Chutes that lead… where? To the basement? There was a pile of bodies down there, but the extra twenty minutes of the episode where his “history” was revealed, in black and white rather than in color, was beyond predictable. I had a hard time staying awake.
We did eventually find out why Mare Winningham’s housekeeping-character is obsessed with cleaning bloody sheets: her own son was kidnapped on Halloween, after complaining about his boring ghost costume — two eye-holes cut into a sheet — by a pedophile, and his body was never found. Only the bloody sheet with the eye-holes was discovered.
Did she work with the millionaire serial killer at the hotel before her son was kidnapped and murdered or only afterward?
That wasn’t made clear.
What was made apparent was that she “loved” the owner and helped him cover up his crimes, so when the police came to arrest him, she willingly died with him.
Is trite too harsh a term to describe that plot-line and the extra-long episode in which is was revealed?
Too kind a term, perhaps.
The Halloween “Special”
Besides the wonderful performance of recurring American Horror Story actor Lily Rabe as Aileen Wuornos, the two-part Halloween special was unbelievably dull.
Part One — picture this: every year the dead serial killer Hotel-builder has a “party” for famous serial killers: John Wayne Gacy, Jeffrey Dahmer, Aileen Wuornos (Lily Rabe), etc., and this year, the detective John Lowe (Wes Bentley), who’s staying at the Hotel Cortez, is their guest. They all drink absinthe and talk.
Serial killers sit around and talk.
Because, you know, that’s how you can spot a serial killer: he never stops talking.
Not even when someone at the Halloween party is alive and drugged and not capable of defending himself.
Not even when that alive, drugged someone is a detective, a police-guy, a law-enforcement officer.
All the serial killers just talk.
Until finally Sally arrives with a “kidnapped” drug-addict that she offers them as a killing-gift.
Excuse for more gore and blood after over an hour of yakkety-yak-yak-yak.
Part Two of the Halloween Special…
It was this past week.
as “Liz Taylor”
The only character I actually do like is Dennis O’Hare’s transvestite Liz Taylor, who is alive and working in the Hotel. O’Hare is brilliantly daring in the role, wearing fab clothes and jewels,
reading classics like James Joyce’s Ulysses and Voltaire’s Candide while waiting for customers at the bar or the front desk (when Iris isn’t available),
dispensing poignant philosophical opinions on life (e.g., when he tells the now-deceased-mother-turned-vampire-Iris that when you’re “invisible” — i.e., to glamorous, gorgeous, wealthy people — you can do anything you want). In Iris’ instance, this might include staking the Countess through her unfeeling heart or trying to kill Sally — again — because Iris blamed Sally for Donovan’s drug abuse.
O’Hare, who’s been a regular figure in the American Horror Story franchise, was also stunning as Russell Edgington, the homosexual vampire in a season of True Blood. O’Hare is an underrated actor, if only because his parts in films are often rather small ones, but this time, Dennis is really getting a chance to stand out and strut his stuff.
His character has some of the best lines (replying to Detective John’s complaints about his life with “And I have an appendage between my legs that prevents me from wearing pencil skirts”); the most interesting back-story so far — he married his wife because she wore the same size clothes as he did, which meant he could wear her dresses and heels; and he was a traveling salesman who got along fine with all the mucho-macho guys till they caught him in the hallway of the hotel wearing a slip, heels, and a fur coat.
O’Hare’s “Liz Taylor” has some of the best interactions with the other characters roaming through the Hotel, whether or not they become permanent guests.
In fact, if O’Hare doesn’t get nominated for an Emmy or Golden Globe for this year’s performance, or win one/both, then I’ll personally award him The Alexandria Papers Award for courage and panache in a dramatic role.
I was so looking forward to American Horror Story: Hotel. With its huge line-up of recurring stars, guest stars, and cameos, I thought it was going to be as good as the first season, which was an innovative stunner with a surprise premise. This year, Hotel basically has the same premise as the first season; each episode is even more gory than the one before, but in exactly the same way; the plot is virtually the same each week, with Gaga (I mean, the Countess) turning someone else into a vampire, while someone else in the show bloodily kills someone that the viewers can’t possibly care about because the character(s) are new and usually unlikeable; and each episode is literally getting longer — and seems unbearably longer than it actually is — causing critic Ryan Roschke of PopSugar to write an “open letter” to creator-writer Ryan Murphy, asking him to trim the show’s extraneous characters and sub-plots down, signing it, “A Very Tired American Horror Story Fan.”
Unfortunately, beyond the fantastic performance of Dennis O’Hare, the only thing I now like about the show this season is the opening title sequence.
Otherwise, Hotel Cortez has become nothing but Hotel Gore-tez.
Welcome to the Hotel: American Horror Story, Season 5 Premiere