A pair of foreign sisters check into the Hotel Cortez, while an L.A. detective investigates a brutal murder.
This might be one of the strongest opening episodes of American Horror Story so far. After the Freakshow season failed to keep my attention all the way through, this feels like a real return to form for the series. While the departure of Jessica Lange was definitely felt and something that I really didn’t want to happen. That said, I went in with an open mind, and I’m so glad that I did. Vanity Fair might disagree with me, but who cares?
First off, let’s start with what you would be forgiven for calling stunt casting: Lady Gaga. I’m really don’t hate her as a general rule or anything, her music is pretty solid and she’s definitely a unique presence in pop music, but I know plenty of people have a knee-jerk dislike for her. With that said, she is electric in this show. Her first scene is set to one of my favourite She Wants Revenge songs, Tear You Apart, and goes from zero to blood-soaked orgy in no time at all. She is mesmerizing as The Countess and I can’t wait to see what comes next. Also returning to the series, in this episode, are Kathy Bates, Wes Bentley, and Sarah Paulson. According to the cast list, we’ll be seeing the return of other favourites later on as well.
It’s worth mentioning that my favourite season of AHS is Asylum, I’m a huge fan of the paranormal elements of that season, and it really worked for me. Hotel seems to be returning in a similar direction, with lots of paranormal elements and disturbing imagery. It’s also drawing quite a bit from Stanley Kubrik’s The Shining, and no I don’t mean just because it’s set in a hotel. The carpet in the hotel bears a pretty striking resemblance, and there is an idea here about one room that is especially evil, and there are scary children, and … ok so there are a lot of similarities with The Shining, but I’m not even upset about it.
There is one scene that came out of nowhere and really didn’t work for me, in which a junkie is raped by a monster wearing a drill bit. Yeah, yeah that pretty much sums that scene up. It felt cheap and disturbing for the sake of being disturbing when it really wasn’t necessary for the show at all. A scene earlier in the episode where a body emerges from a mattress is effectively frightening and doesn’t require any violent (and extended) rape. Just my opinion on that one.
All told, I’m pretty excited to see where this series is going and I have a feeling it’s going to grab my attention better than Freakshow did. Has everyone already seen this episode? Please feel free to share your thoughts in the comments.