31 Days of Reviews: American Horror Story (5.01)

This review will attempt to look at the premiere episode of American Horror Story Hotel on FX.

By now, it should come as no surprise that AHS is a shocking show. It’s constantly pushing limits and attempting to one-up itself in each episode, not to mention each rebooted season. When watching the premiere, this was the thought I couldn’t get out of my head. Some areas felt like the creators were trying really hard to be shocking. Overall, the episode was so intense that I had to sleep on it and digest it all before attempting to write about it. Even now, I’m not sure that I know what to say.

The show opens with two Swedish tourists arriving in California, only to find out that the internet listing wasn’t very truthful, and the hotel they pre-paid for is nowhere near the attractions they want to see. When attempting to get a refund fails, the two women attempt dealing with the room they’ve been given. We all know what show this is, so I don’t have to spoil the intimate details of how this doesn’t end well.

Personally, I wasn’t impressed by this opening sequence. It didn’t draw me in at all. The editing was too quick for the pacing of what was going on, too many cuts in a short period of time. There was a fish-eye effect on a lot of the shots that didn’t convey to me what the creators intended. I just found it annoying. This opening made me remark, “I’m not impressed. They’ve got to try harder.”

Try harder? I would soon regret asking for that.

The setting for this season of AHS is really beautiful. There are so many options for amazingly creepy shots and situations. Just being that it’s set in a hotel allows for some great characters to roll in and out. I have no question that AHS Hotel has the potential to be on par with the Murder House season, if not better. We have great recurring cast members, and the addition of Lady Gaga is definitely turning out to be a beautiful thing.

There are definitely some shocking moments in this premiere episode. One of them has the entire internet talking, and I feel I should lightly address it. I’m trying to include rape warnings in my reviews for those who have the potential to be triggered by scenes that depict rape. I know I tune out of shows and movies during those scenes. I’m never a fan. Hotel features a scene where a man is raped by a waxy figure. The scene is long and drawn out, lasting for several minutes.The creators are calling it a metaphor for addiction, one of Hotel‘s main themes. Regardless, know that the scene will pop up. It takes place after a man checks into the hotel by himself to use heroin.

Other shockers include a Se7en-esque crime scene and a blood-soaked orgy. Both of these scenes shocked me. I’m still surprised they can show that much on television.

I will mention that Lady Gaga is pretty brilliant on this show as Countess Elizabeth. During her scenes, I had the strange delusion that she wasn’t even acting at all. It all seemed to come so naturally to her, so cohesive with her persona. I’m surprised she hasn’t been a part of the show before. I’m looking forward to seeing her role progress.

This season definitely seems like it will have a lot of homages to other films. I mentioned the Se7en reference earlier, but I also saw references to 1408, House of 1000 Corpses, and a bit of The Shining. One of the characters from Murder House even makes an appearance, sparking ideas of potential crossovers since both seasons are in the same time period and location.

I’ve been an avid watcher through each season of AHS, and this season will likely be no different. I’m personally a bigger fan of supernatural horror than gore horror, which definitely explains why others are far more excited about this particular episode than I am, but I am hopeful that Hotel will have the potential to be one of the better seasons of the series.

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