American Horror Story: Hotel has strutted back on to our screens in typical twisted, gory fashion. The anthology series, developed by Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk, has been relatively hit and miss across its previous four seasons, but will this latest installment add new fuel to the fire?
From the big sweeping shots of the art deco styled Hotel Cortex, AHS is setting itself up for big things, whilst remaining empty at the same time. At the moment it’s more about what contrived and macabre things the writers can come up with next, rather than giving us something we can really sink our teeth into. But is that necessarily a bad thing? You get those weird, creepy vibes from the gruesome scenes, a sense of omen from the hotel itself (which reminds me a lot of The Shining’s Overlook Hotel), and you just know something isn’t going to be right. With AHS, it’s as much about the build-up as it is the actual horror.
‘Checking In’ was very much a set up for the series, where things seem to happen without rhyme or reason (Max Greenfield’s almost comedic and unnecessary rape scene for instance). So far we’ve encountered a troubled cop in Wes Bentley, a bloodthirsty couple in Lady Gaga and Matt Bomer, and the ever-amazing Kathy Bates as Bomer’s mother. Bates can do no wrong in my eyes; she has a charm that just flows off her and I love the darker roles that she can really play up to.On paper, Lady Gaga is obviously a big name to draw people in – perhaps even those who’ve never watched the series before – but The Countess is a role that literally screams Gaga, and indeed her first scenes look like they could be something out of one of her videos. Whilst she didn’t say very much, she didn’t really need to, and it’s going to be interesting to see how her character develops alongside Bomer and Bates.
So is Hotel a return to form for Murphy and Falchuck? At this early stage in the season it could go either way. The ‘cop on the case’ plot has been done, yes, but with AHS there’s potential to do something different with it, something bold and twisted, and I’ll be checking in to see how the season progresses next week.