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TV Review: American Horror Story Hotel (Season 5, Episode 4)

10.29.2015by: Jake Dee

EPISODE: DEVIL'S NIGHT

THE SCOOP: John Lowe takes up an invitation to Devil's Night, a gory annual gala held by James March. Meanwhile, Alex makes a grave decision in order to reunite with Holden for good.

WARNING: MAJOR SPOILERS BELOW. IF YOU'VE NOT SEEN THIS EPISODE, STOP READING HERE!

THE SKINNY: Following a bounce back episode of sorts with last week's "Mommy," the mantle has been passed to new director Loni Peristere to torturously trick and tantalizingly treat us all with revelry of "Devil's Night" - the de facto Halloween episode of American Horror Story season 5. A pretty mild one at that! The festivities begin with a pre-credits blitz when a ghostly guest at the titular gala - infamous night stalker Richard Ramirez - sneaks into a room at the Hotel Cortez and bashes the ever loving stuffing out of some poor bastard asleep in bed. Brains the dude cold, crushes his skull into a slimy pile of pulp. Rugged! It seems Devil's Night is crazy old James March's annual real-life horror holiday, to which he invites a guess-list full of the most odious and depraved of murderous monsters the world has known. Gacy, Dahmer, Zodiac, Wuornos...dead, alive, it doesn't matter, March can seemingly summon any spirit he damn well pleases. After being seduced at the hotel bar and almost slaughtered off by the Monster herself (played by Lily Rabe in an over the top mockery of Charlize Theron), our man John Lowe finds an invitation to attend March's devilish dinner event. Is it for real or has Lowe hit hallucinatory rock bottom?

Before the sordid soiree sets off, the action picks up post-credits by giving a chance for Mare Winningham to shine a bit. She plays the maid, Hazel Evers, and we learn that back in 1925, she lost her son during a daytime trick or treating when a stranger scooped him up and peeled out in a car. Lowe, having come upstairs to investigate the wall of gore leaking into his room from above, shares empathetic war stories and psychic scars with his newfound kindred spirit in Hazel. Remember, he too lost a son. Or did he? This ties into the other major storyline this week, as Alex examines the state of her moribund son Holden. At a cadaverous 75.5 degrees - room temp. - little man's no more than a walking talking chimera with frizzy hear and blackened eye-sockets. Alex knows it, but is too blind by her love of his return to do much about it. Well, other than return him to the Cortez, where Alex unwittingly stumbles upon The Countess, who informs the bereaving mother of the truth. Some coaxing, some cajoling, and soon The Countess convinces Alex it's in her best interest to drop her problems and become a bloodsucking mortal. You know, to reunite with creepy ass little bedraggled blonde Damien over there. Unfortunately for John and Scarlett, she agrees!

Now back to the best part of this episode, the baleful Devil's Night banquet. It's always a pleasure to see the great John Carroll Lynch make a return to AHS, and here he gets to riff on playing John Wayne Gacy, right down to the face-paint and dopey twang. Our maniacal master of ceremonies, James March, has rounded up the ragtag assemblage of serial murders to do one thing. Partake in a gruesome multi-murder gangbang! That they do when, in high spirits, they all take turns repeatedly butchering some bystanding lamb that they've culled just for one glorious sacrificial evening. The poor bastard ends up getting savagely impaled more times than Nina Hartley, left in a similar gnarly heap of eviscerated gunk. A pretty cool scene, no doubt, even if like the rest of the chapter, the violence was quite tempered. Pretty shockingly low-key for Halloween episode, let's be frank. More egregious perhaps, is not only how late in the day the party finally arrived, but how the whole soiree turned out to be nothing more than a besotted hallucination of our untrustworthy lead POV, John Lowe. Talk about wasted spirits!

So what do you think, was it all really just a drunken dreamscape? All in all, I think "Devil's Night" had its moments, but for an expectedly challenging and charged-up Halloween stint, it felt relatively tame. I dug the campy and sexy Sapphic exchanges between Gaga and Sevigny, but am not so sure I like the idea of Alex becoming a vampire. I still hold belief that she'll end up being the emotional nucleus of the season, so I'm definitely not willing to give up on her story arc yet. As for the butcher's bash itself, I certainly dig the serial-killer showdown at the end, even if it too felt a bit bereft festivity wise. The idea to hedge a way into corralling that lecherous lineup was no doubt a cool one, I only wish it was gotten to sooner in the 60 minutes and gave us a little more unbridled ruckus to relish. Also, is it me, or did the total absence of Iris, Donovan, Will Drake and Ramona strike you as a bit odd? Especially after playing vital roles last time out. Oh well, let's see if "Room Service" can atone with the f*cked up flavor of a delectable dish next week!

KILL OF THE WEEK: I suppose the honor has to go to the super-killer-gangbang, where upon our hall of fame serial murders, loaded on absinthe, repeatedly stab a hapless victim many times over until he's reduced to a gloppy mound of red sauce.

BLOOD & GORE:

  • A bashed in face, gooey pulp matter and caved in skull.
  • A wall of blood leaking from the ceiling.
  • Throated dog, blood all over.
  • Repeated knife stabbings.
  • Slit peck, bloodsucking, mouth covered in blood.

WTF CHARACTER MOMENT: Alex. Why the hell bring Holden back to the Cortez. Why schmooze with The Countess? And why oh why abandon your family and choose the eternal life of a darkened-soul on the hollow promise of reuniting with your half-dead son? Get it together bitch!

MOST BIZARRE SCENE: Not sure about you, but I found the whole Alieen Wuornos to be way overdone, with Lily Rabe's histrionics crossing the boundaries into SNL type parody. Bad blood between Theron and Ryan Murphy? Didn't they own the same house at one point? Hmm. Odd indeed.

Extra Tidbit: Thoughts on Devil's Night?
Source: AITH

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