American Horror Story Hotel: Checking In

Last night was the season premiere of American Horror Story : Hotel. This time its based in, (where else), a hotel. The creators really pulled out all the stops in the freaky department and…

I LOVED IT!

This season has a great new/old cast with Kathy Bates,  Sarah Paulson, Lady Gaga, Angela Bassett and  Matt Bomer (WOO!), This episode introduces the characters, some basic plot points and ideas. Hopefully the show can keep this momentum for twelve more episodes. The show has a habit of losing my interest about halfway through the season, not that that keeps me from watching it.

And the music! Augh! Absolutely gorgeous music tonight, including my all time favorite, Hotel California by The Eagles, a little on the nose but very appropriate. There’s some Sisters of Mercy and Bauhaus in there too, along with Petula Clark’s Downtown, but the capital song heard when Lady Gaga enters the scene is Tear You Apart by She Wants Revenge.

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The director has definitely been watching lots of Kubrick’s The Shining, so if you’re not a fan of long dollying camera moves, centering and overhead shots, small children standing around in the hallway, and boldly patterned hotel rugs, then this is not your show.This is what The Shining would have been if Kubrick had been an acidhead.

The Hotel Cortez, itself, is absolutely gorgeous. I just loved looking at it, my eyes circling around the screen, finding all of its wonderful details, including an ancient cigarette machine in the corner, the Art Deco light fixtures, the furniture. Its a visually rich set. As for the denizens of the hotel, they’re just as compelling to watch.

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The first person we meet is Kathy Bates character, Iris, the hotel manager. She has a more prosaic reason for being there then just minding the store .My favorite character is the gender-bending bartender, Liz Taylor, played by Denis O’Hare. I loved every moment of that actor’s screen time.Matt Bomer plays Donovan, who spends his time having blood orgies with the owner of Hotel Cortez, The Countess, played by Lady Gaga. There’s Will Drake a a fashion designer who wants to buy the hotel, Sarah Paulson’s character is Hypodermic Sally, one of the hotel regulars. I think she may be dead. In fact, its probable that more than a few of the characters are dead or dead-ish. Sally owns a pet something, that’s more or less human, and wrapped in latex.

There are all kinds of graphic shenanigans going on at the hotel. It’s a fairly cheap hotel, ,depsite its beauty. Theres a lot of screams, gasps and moaning from behind closed doors, as you wander the dimly lit halls. From time to time, you see little blond children, who may or may not be ghosts. People get sewn into mattresses, alive, patrons get raped by latex covered monsters as they die from drug overdoses, and strangers unknowingly get seduced into orgies with vampires, who rip their throats out.

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This show is not for people with delicate sensibilities. if you are easily triggered or certain things offend you, you might want to avoid it, as its pretty graphic. There’s sex, nudity, violence, and lots and lots of blood.

The Countess and Donovan are something like vampires, although its probably more complicated. Iris is Donovan’s mother, who followed him to the hotel twenty years ago, when he got lured in by Sally. Sally is complicated. She is not a ghost but she is not alive, in the traditional sense of the term. We watch her fall from a hotel window that’s several stories and land on her face. She breaks but she survives, so what is she?

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There’s secret rooms where tiny blonde children play video games during the day and hunt down the hotel patrons at night. Iris forces people to take health drinks before sacrificing them to The Countess and there’s the detective, John Lowe, played by Wes Bentley, who lost his  very young son at an amusement park,  and whose family is still dealing with the loss. He comes to the hotel because a serial killer,styled somewhat like a cross between The Red Dragon and that guy from the movie Seven, has baited him into the hotel.

So we’ve got all the basic character and plot threads for what I hope is a good season. Later, Angela Basset portrays a music star, and  former lover to The Countess, who comes to the hotel to get revenge on her and I’m very looking forward to that. Hopefully the show can carry this momentum through to the end. I hope it keeps making standout musical choices, too.

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7 thoughts on “American Horror Story Hotel: Checking In

  1. Ahh, yeah. I can understand if you decide that the interaction you want with the show is through reviews, cuz it’s not for everyone. Like Game of Thornes it has a very strong personality. Im not particularly interested in GoT, but I like this show.

    I can grok not liking it though. And there’s a kind of midseason slump with this show, so for about 3 or 4 episodes, towards the end, it’s kind hard to keep your interest.

    But I’m going to stick with it. I’d like to see where it’s going.

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  2. So, I watched it. It was strange to say the least, The role is tailor-made for Gaga and fits her like a glove. I also like the backstory of Bomer’s character. I’m going to need 2 more episodes to see where I stand. It’s a bit much for my gentle soul and it bruises the more conservative part of my spirit but everyone from the main cast is on their A-game and the show is mysterious, interesting and kind of addictive. So far.

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    1. Yeah, the story hasn’t kicked in yet. This is mostly to intro the characters and what social and magical rules we’ll be working with this season. The story probably won’t get started until the second or third episode.

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  3. It sounds so interesting. I’ve been meaning to get into this show. Do you think I can understand the story if I start with this hotel installment?

    I will watch the previous seasons around Christmas but I don’t have time for marathons right now. I need more Angela Basset and Kathy Bates in my life. I thought Angela was supposed to be Marie Laveau but I guess I’ll figure it out when I watch…

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    1. It’s fine. You just jump right in!

      Each season is entirely self contained, with a slightly different cast than the previous, and has a different theme and plot. So you can even watch the season out of order.

      Third season, I think, was witches with Angela as Marie Laveau. Before that it was an insane asylum and that one was pretty wild. Last season was a circus freak show. (I didn’t review the whole season, just a couple of episodes, if you want to get a feel for what that was like. )

      This season it’s all set in the Hotel Cortez and it will be entirely self contained, too. The series is pretty extreme, for network TV. I try to warn people, if you’re sensitive about anything, do your research first.

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      1. Thanks. I’m going to start this season so I can follow with everyone.

        “The series is pretty extreme, for network TV. I try to warn people, if you’re sensitive about anything, do your research first.”

        I heard that and definitely got the message after the Gabby/Bullman or was it a horse-man, centaur, any who, the Gabby/man-animal sex scene that set the blogs on fire. I’ll proceed with caution. I’m a wuss but I’m very intrigued by the show lol.

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