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American Horror Story: Hotel, Season 5, FX | reviews, news & interviews

American Horror Story: Hotel, Season 5, FX

American Horror Story: Hotel, Season 5, FX

Gross-out carnage meets MTV. Will you be sleeping with the lights on this time?

Detective John Lowe (Wes Bentley) going up to Room 64 of the Hotel Cortez

A haunted house, a mental asylum, a witch’s coven, a circus freak show. Check, check, check. And check. Is there no horror trope left unturned in American Horror Story? Nope. And that’s precisely the point – familiarity and postmodern camp go a long way to explaining the runaway success of the series. 

Ramping it up for Season 5 we go from the generic to the specific. Any student of the cinematic genre would recognise that carpet from The Shining. Yes, and those pallid kids that spook the corridors of the Hotel Cortez are just like those freaking twins – Come play with us, Danny. Come play with us forever and ever and ever and ever – doomed to eternally stalk the hotel corridors, just like the other freaking guests. Those that aren’t stitched into the bedding that is.

In fact, there are so many obvious film references that the fun soon runs out spotting them. The hand that shoots up from the mattress? Carrie. That gasping, sore-infested semi-cadaver bolting up from the bed? Why, Seven – a movie that’s mined relentlessly in the series, from the biblical-themed murders, to the theatrical sadism of the killings and even (but for this you’ll have to wait for episode two) the box that Detective John Lowe anonymously receives, and whose contents we do get to see (there’s hardly anything we don’t get to see in the new series – nothing is merely suggested). 

Detective Lowe (Wes Bentley) is clearly no horror aficionado, since he can never have watched television if he thinks moving into the ominous Room 64 is wise, but then again if Kathy Bates’s sinister desk clerk didn’t put him off then my sympathy’s already dwindled.

Postmodern horror camped up to the nth degree this may be, but one movie that’s never referenced is Wes Craven’s Scream, where the characters know their horror flicks frame by frame and let you know it. But then, since the whole of Season 5 will turn out to be something of a horror flick homage, we do have Lady Gaga’s blood-sucking, child-catching Countess (pictured below) turning up for a Hollywood Cemetery screening of Nosferatu, so there’s one character familiar with her fictive lineage. 

Lady Gaga as Countess Elizabeth in American Horror StoryAnd that's the point at which things get really ugly – or not, if you like your graphic bloodbath orgies filmed like slick MTV videos complete with cheesy Nineties soundtrack (what can you expect from the guys who bought us Glee – AHS creators Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk? Here we even get a fashion show where Naomi Campbell pops up playing an Anna Wintour caricature). The violence, all set to that anodyne, pumping pop soundtrack, is unequivocally gross. And isn't that rape scene just a little prolonged?

Above all, where, where is the fear? Seasons 1 and 2 had you on tenterhooks of fear – they were over-the-top, absurd, but tempered by suspense, and you cared, even, about the characters. One does hope the MTV pop-pumping gross-outs of Season 5 aren’t going to get in the way of that.

Still, there's a strong enough storyline that picks up in episode two, so don't be checking out of the Hotel Cortez just yet.


The violence, all set that anodyne, pumping pop soundtrack, is unequivocally gross. And isn't that rape scene just a little prolonged?


Editor Rating: 
Average: 3 (1 vote)

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