“American Horror Story” made its fifth season debut on Oct. 7, coming in full force paired with the Halloween spirit to brew the perfect storm of fright and weirdness. The show has premiered two quite lengthy episodes full of raunchy, provocative yet intriguing story lines.
The theme of “American Horror Story: Hotel” this season is looking to be a great backdrop for the tale that is being told to the viewers.
The seedy, older hotel vibe of the Hotel Cortez is one that most can relate to and induce feelings of uneasiness and even terror in some instances- yet the extravagance of the establishment tells stories of a more decadent era.
The cast of characters are all typical of those you would see in a “fright night” movie marathon. Vampires, ghosts, zombies and many other characters bring an eerie vibe to the lobby of the hotel, including a drug addict, the “addiction demon” and a devious maid who serves to do whatever bidding the original hotel owner desires. This motley crew of misfits is also joined by a former alcoholic cop, taunted by hispersonal demons due to the loss of his son and seeks asylum in the hotel while searching for “The Ten Commandments Killer.”
Notably arriving this season in her usual grand fashion is pop diva Lady Gaga who plays the Countess, owner of the establishment who we first see when she and her boyfriend show up, pick up another couple, engage in a foursome and subsequently slit their throats in gruesome fashion.
Notably absent from this season is Jessica Lange, one of, if not the most prominent actresses in the entire show in its past four seasons. Lange’s characters were consistently deliciously evil, yet somehow there was still sympathy and understanding for these roles due to some deep seeded trauma and pain suffered in by her characters in the past. Lange’s absence is painfully obvious, especially to “AHS” fanatics who have been watching since the haunted house theme in season one. Her grandiose and dramatic performances will no doubt be missed in episodes to come.
Actors who are back this season include fan favorites such as Sarah Paulson, Kathy Bates and Evan Peters, all staples of the show’s past. Paulson plays the ghost of a junkie named Sally, who was pushed out of an upper level window by Bates’ character Iris. Both were made immortal by the Countess (Gaga) and now do her bidding. Peters plays his self-described most evil role yet, a new money millionaire named James March who designed and built the hotel in the 1920’s and has a taste for murder and torture.
Plenty of guest stars are to grace the screen with their presence this season as well, including Max Greenfield, Angela Bassett and Naomi Campbell.
Compared to previous seasons, this premise has promise but rthe show has far more character development to be done. Whereas in previous seasons the story lines seemed to build a strong foundation, this season seems to be all over the place as far as plot goes. It will be interesting to see how the show progresses and how all the story lines are to be tied together in future episodes.
Furthermore, with each season, it seems that the show has pushed the envelope further and further with their depictions of sex, drugs and brutal violence. As a late night cable television show, this is to be expected; however, at times it feels as though these components of the show are overdone and unnecessary, and often do little to advance the storyline whatsoever. The “shock value” is definitely achieved, but it feels more like lazy writing and a lack of creativity.
If the show were to delve a little deeper and steer further away from unnecessary, excessive instances of violence and sex (maintaining enough to keep the show interesting, of course), then it would be improved immensely. “American Horror Story: Hotel” is intriguing in the way of a bad accident on the freeway; it’s shocking, scary and one can’t help but look on in awe.
It will be interesting to see where the story line will go from here, as new characters are introduced on a weekly basis, adding their own dramatic flair to the hotel.
While the show is definitely entertaining and worth watching, there is much to be improved on and many questions yet to be answered.