AMERICAN HORROR STORY: HOTEL
Worth checking into? We do our TripAdvisor bit.
UK Broadcast Fox, finished
US Broadcast FX, finished
Episodes Reviewed 5.01- 5.12
According to writer- creator Ryan Murphy, American Horror Story: Hotel was inspired by a viral video of a woman being pulled into a hotel lift ( by ghosts) before vanishing. That’s a fairly literal elevator pitch. And, if he’s not careful, it could be a good metaphor for the franchise as a whole.
Despite the fact that a hotel seems the perfect place for Murphy’s spook- show to set up shop ( AHS loves a fixed location populated by ephemeral characters, whether it’s a haunted house moving through eras, an asylum, a witch’s coven, or a circus) this time he seems to treat the location less like a scary B& B, and more like an all- you- can- eat buffet.
American Horror Story generally doesn’t so much throw thoughts at the wall to see what sticks as it does dump buckets of brains onto a building until it caves in. This usually means a near- impossible amount of obscure references, horror homages and crazed characters are to be expected when embarking on new season. But, this year, the ideas overwhelm the narrative.
The high- concept – vampires, ghosts, creepy kids and serial killers ( and ghosts of creepy serial killers) reside in an LA- based hotel which looks like it was carpeted by Stanley Kubrick – is solid enough.
But, for the first time ever, American Horror Story’s audience isn’t offered a single fully sympathetic soul to follow, with only a trail of broken people and blood- drained bodies leading the way through the show’s maze- like corridor of endless plot- twists and baffling character turns.
The closest we get to a likeable
Gets to the halfway point and collapses of a heart attack
lead is hotel owner Lady Gaga’s glam- vamp Countess Elizabeth, and she ends the opener having killed a couple of innocent hipsters she picked up at a pop- up screening of Nosferatu. So, probably not the first person you’d put on your wedding list.
Supporting players have potential audience appeal, but are either so sidelined ( Denis O’Hare’s astonishing Liz Taylor) or mishandled ( Angela Bassett’s wasted blaxploitation star turned vamp- warrior Ramona Royale) that they’re frustrating for fans.
Sure, the show is exciting to begin with – the thrilling first episode feels like it was crafted at 3am during a fever- dream, with enough iconic introductions, monstrous moments and wide- eyed wailers to fill an entire series. Unfortunately, you can only maintain that pace for a limited time before you run out of breath. Hotel gets to the halfway point of the season and collapses of a heart attack. Viewing figures subsequently sank over the course of the season, with fans getting on at the penthouse level and stepping off long before they hit the basement.
With Murphy now focusing on his new show American Crime Story, there was every reason to suspect season five could’ve been American Horror Story’s last ever year. A character even exclaims in the final episode, “It was supposed to be the perfect ending!”
Perhaps to right the fact that the conclusion isn’t quite so perfect, Murphy’s rumoured to be returning for a sixth outing. He’s apparently again looking to the internet for inspiration, using eerie meme phenomenon Slender Man as a starting point. Let’s hope this means less flab on the show’s bones next time. Sam Ashurst
“Here’s to another season! Maybe.”
Lady Gaga bagged a Golden Globe for her Countess Elizabeth.
Don’t worry, it’s not real. OR IS IT?