Thank God Ryan Murphy doesn’t run an actual hotel.
Wow. It’s only the day after the long-awaited premiere of American Horror Story: Hotel and I already feel comfortable saying that no matter how different all the other seasons were from one another, Hotel reinvents the show. New cast, new style, new story twists. Exciting!
The new season starts off with a very familiar picture: Two young and blonde European girls check in to the Hotel Cortez, greeted by the great Kathy Bates, also known as Iris in the current installment. The girls will soon find out that the hotel is not of the ordinary kind. After getting into their room they notice a strange smell coming from the bed. They cut it open (proving that they are as ordinary as the hotel) and a disgusting creature crawls out of it. Before they (and we) can even find out what’s going on, they’re dead. It’s teen horror in its purest form – well, translated into the AHS language.
Then there is detective John Lowe, played by Wes Bentley, who is investigating a very gruesome crime scene. Two people, a man and a woman, have been speared and nailed onto the wall, apparently just after having sex – even though they are married to other people. The man is still alive but his eyes and tongue have been cut out.
As announced by the filmmakers, this scene might be one installment by the so-called “Ten-Commandments-Killer.” And yes if we remember what we learned in school, one of the commandments says, “Thou shalt not commit adultery.” If you watched the opening credits closely, you might have noticed some of the Ten Commandments that appear in between the names of the cast. I have to say that Bible-backed murders are the last thing I would have expected. But hey, this is American Horror Story! Be prepared for more.
Time to introduce a AHS regular: Sarah Paulson. Her first appearance in Hotel tells us that she is not what we’re used to. Who remembers the bitter-sweet twins Bette and Dot from Freakshow? Well, they’re gone. Sarah Paulson is now a single person, Sally: freaky, sadistic, and with blood on her face. Oh, and apparently she is dead?!?
We have yet to find out why she’s still around but we all saw Kathy Bates/Iris pushing her out the window at the end of the show. It all happened very quickly and since we haven’t seen much more of Sally it’s hard to tell what her character is like. One interesting thing, though, happened when she got to the scene where Iris tortures the Swedish girls. She frees one of them only to be killed by the Countess in the end. Did Sally know that the girl was going to die? Did she try to sabotage the murder? Did she feel sorry for her? Maybe the Countess herself can reveal the truth – next time.
After the first few murders we meet – finally – Lady Gaga. A few sparkly jewels here and there, and a hand in a diamond glove heralded the Countess’ appearance. With all her glamour the first episode celebrates Lady Gaga as the crown jewel of the show. She is the owner of the hotel and appears to be some sort of vampire. Together with the incredibly beautiful Matt Bomer as Donovan, Lady Gaga seduces a young couple at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery. Back at the hotel they delve into a very juicy sex scene. Did you notice Matt Bomer’s hand on the other guy’s leg? Definitely another wink at gay vibes from Ryan Murphy. I personally love these little hints that are sprinkled all over the show.
This little hint is soon overshadowed by Lady Gaga’s grand appearance before they get to business. After some X-rated foreplay, Gaga and Bomer slice up the couple’s throats and drink their blood. What the hell!? Are they vampires, cannibals, psychos? Who knows! Even though it’s so out-of-the-blue, the Countess does appear a bit like a vampire through her pale skin, slow movements and eerie smile. But it’s too early into the season to tell what’s going on. One thing for sure: Gaga is up to no good.
And then there is this other killer. John receives a text from his wife that she is in trouble. He tries to rescue her and finds a crime scene with two disemboweled bodies hanging from the ceiling. A great and dramatic picture that yet again yields some new questions: Another ritual murder? Is there any connection to the hotel? Who is the murderer?
Well, the murderer has some sort of “Scream” thing going on. He keeps calling John with hints. I have to say, that was the moment where I got a little frustrated because of all the questions that had been crowding in my head. The story keeps jumping back and forth between murders, there are all these new characters, new names and yet hardly any connection between them.
But towards the end, this picture changes when we see a real familiar face: Marcy! Remember her from Season One? She was the real estate agent who sold the haunted mansion to the Harmon family. Marcy’s is the first recurring character in this season, and as far as I know also the second one overall after beloved Pepper reappeared in Freakshow. Yet more questions arise when she enters the hotel with Cheyenne Jackson as Will Drake. Apparently he is the new owner of the hotel. We don’t know yet what his intentions are and what Gaga’s role is in this business deal. However, she seems to have known about the purchase, as opposed to the hotel’s staff. They are freaking out.
On the other side, Will Drake’s visit sheds some light on another issue in the hotel: the little pale kids. They keep appearing throughout the first episode, pointing at things, staring, waiting or sucking the blood of the victims. Apart from the gore, the kids reminded me of Danny, the little boy in “The Shining.” Again, where they come from, what they want, and why they suck blood remains a secret. But at least we get to know where the children are when they’re not doing creepy stuff. The Countess takes Will’s son Lachlan to a room where all the pale kids are playing video games and eating candy. The Countess looks almost like a mother to them. We also find out that John’s son Holden, who went missing five years earlier, is part of the Countess’ army of kids. But what is he doing there? He marks yet another piece in the puzzle.
ANSWERS PLEASE!!! What the hell are all these kids doing there? And why do they play video games like crazy WOW addicts?
One episode down, and what do we know? Well, we know that everything is different. As opposed to all previous season premieres, this is the first one that only poses questions. It almost feels as if the first episode of Hotel is used to tease the rest of the show. There are lots of disturbing images like the raping creature, the creature sewn into the bed and of course Lady Gaga drinking blood. Lots of blood. It might have been disappointing for those of us who were waiting for some solid horror entertainment. A lot of information was withheld, which I’m afraid made it difficult to understand and fully enjoy the horror. While this was quite a bit disappointing, it could also make the upcoming episodes all the more exciting. For a week now we can let those questions sink into our mind. Creator Brad Falchuck said that the second episode will leave you speechless.