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TV Review: American Horror Story: Hotel (Season 5, Episode 1)

EPISODE: CHECKING IN

THE SCOOP: When L.A. gumshoe John Lowe is sent to investigate a heinously violent murder, all signs point to someone dwelling at the dark, depraved and deeply diabolical Hotel Cortez!

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

THE SKINNY: Well f*ck me! Just when I was grousing about last night's underwhelming episode of Scream Queens, Murphy and Falchuk make up for it in spades with the gore-sodden 90-minute foyer of American Horror Story: Hotel. Wow. The doors to the lavish establishment Hotel Cortez are opened to a pair of sexy blonde German tourists, who instantly sense something amiss. They're greeted by the craggy concierge Iris (Kathy Bates), who denies them a refund and steers them to their musty quarters on one of the upper floors. Turns out the fetid stench they find so offensive is coming from their stitched up mattress. Well, it ain't a dead body, but some kind of stinky face-melted ghoul who's still alive! Bates shakes it off and gives the gals an upgraded suite in room #64. Yet in the middle of the night, after a jazz ditty sounds a 2:25 AM alarm, one of the gals is chomped apart by a pair of cannibalistic boy-girl twins. And that ain't the half! And yes, if THE SHINING is invoked when thinking of hotels and twins, you're right, as obvious odes to the Overlook Hotel are present - opulent, luxurious, labyrinthine - both antiquated and architecturally updated at once. So get ready, freakish lots of surreal psychosexual slaughter is fin to take place right here in this naughty and haughty house of horrors!

We cut to somewhere else in Los Angeles, where we meet our likely protagonist John Lowe (Wes Bentley),a dogged gumshoe investigating a grisly double murder. We're talking right out of SE7EN, a double impalement, crucifixion and gruesome eye-gouging. Worse yet, the dude is still alive and erect while his gal pal is stabbed (pun) lifeless on the other end of a blade. Sick shite. Lowe takes it in stride, and we soon learn he's also a devoted father to his daughter Scarlett (Shree Cooks), bt also doesn't get along so well with his wife Alex (Chloe Sevigny). It's crystal clear that this family will provide the emotional backbone of the entire season, which is smart casting, as Bentley and Sevigny both have the experienced chops to pull the hefty strings required to keep us all moved and involved. Besides, everyone else in the show is goddamned maniac! Detective Lowe will be abreast of this in no time, as a vicious crime scene he later visits (with Scarlett) tips him off to sadistically shady dealings going down at the Hotel Cortez.

So, let's meet some of our main occupants. We have Hypodermic Sally (Sarah Paulson), a junky temptress who's accompanied by a monstrous gimp that anally rapes any one of its master's choosing. Pretty nice. Then there's Liz Taylor (Denis O'Hare), a bald tranny who does odd jobs around the Hotel and rocks low-hanging earrings that make her look like f*cking Dalsam. We have the Countess Elizabeth (Lady Gaga) and her preening boy toy Donovan (Matt Bomer) - an affluent set of sexual swingers who go out and lure in a fresh faced couple, indulge in a freaky foursome with them before vampirically masticating their throats until a river of gore disembogues all over their fancy round bed. Pretty neat. Then there's a clan of wandering progeny, little blond tykes that roam the halls and remain mute in a fugue state. Pretty sweet. We also have the new owner of the Hotel, Will Drake (Cheyenne Jackson) who will no doubt threaten to evict our seedy and sordid band of miscreants in due time. And of course, there's Iris, the undisputed charnel house chambermaid, who perhaps gives us our most profligate set-piece when binding the other blond German into a fluorescently lit dungeon and torturing the piss out of the poor girl. Yup, Iris is a piece of work.

And so far, too is the entire show. I almost forgot just how much AHS can get away with being on at 10:00 PM on FX. Shit goes there! What I liked most about the first entry into HOTEL is, aside from the bizarrely macabre mash-up of everything from THE SHINING, SE7EN, 1408, HOSTEL and more, is just how surreally off-the-wall the characters are and exorbitantly violent the content is. This is dank, devilish, debasing depravity at its filthiest. Sure, there's some of the trademark confusion in terms of timelines and how much of the material we can really take seriously, but if this pilot episode is any indication (episodes uses dial it back after the first), an extended stay at Hotel Cortez is sure to dish all the perverted obscenities and murderous amenities we can ask for. Here's to an indefinite stay!

  • BLOOD & GORE:
  • Double impalement through bodies.
  • Hands nailed to the wall.
  • Eyes gouged out.
  • Eyeballs in dish.
  • Flesh eating.
  • Intense throat slashing.
  • Bed full of blood.
  • Gory geysers, A ripped apart throat.
  • Stomachs tornt, guts hanging.

KILL OF THE WEEK: Really ripe pickings this week, but damn, I may have to go for that throat-thrashing foursome where Gaga and her man feast on that sexy unsuspecting couple. We're talking gallons of grue!

WTF CHARACTER MOMENT: Why oh why the hell does Will Drake want to buy, and more importantly, continue to own the Hotel Cortez? WTF?

MOST BIZARRE SCENE: The scene where a Zack Morris haired junky shoots dope in his room, only to wake up and find himself the victim of pederasty. Dude gets pounded in the ass with a sharp dildo by a slimy goo-faced monster. What else do you want?

Extra Tidbit: So what dd you think?
Source: AITH

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