‘American Horror Story: Hotel’: Checking In (5.01) review
Returning for a fifth season, American Horror Story sets the stage for a gory, drug induced and sex filled storyline with “Hotel”. Last night’s premiere bought us “Checking In”, an apt name considering the entire premise of this year’s story takes part in the Hotel Cortez, a dark and seedy building located in Los Angeles.
Checking In spends most of its one and half hour running time introducing and building character storylines, Kathy Bates who plays Iris and Sarah Paulson who plays Sally being the most prominent. The star of the show, as the promotional material has always suggested, is Lady Gaga who takes on the role of The Countess, the hotels devious owner. Her acting leaves a lot to be desired but we’re in the early days, I’m expecting her character to grow more and her storyline to flesh out.
Other well-known faces include Denis O’Hare who plays the sassy transvestite bellhop Liz Taylor, Mare Winningham who helps with the housekeeping and a return from Christine Estabrook who fans of season one will know as Marcy.
Unfortunately Hotel says goodbye to series veteran Jessica Lange, who in previous seasons has been the glue that holds everything together – she had a leadership quality that shone throughout each season. Without her, despite Gaga taking on the role of such an esteemed character, Hotel has no centrepiece. Everyone is pulling sideshow duty at this moment in time and as of yet I’m not able to say if that’s a good or bad quality.
Creators Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk are no strangers to exploring the dark side of human nature, and within moments of the show starting we’re greeted with rape, murder and something that can only be described as a blood soaked orgy that’s uncomfortable erotic. There’s no holding back, Checking In runs head on, at high speed into outlandish and eccentric territory – a place many hardcore fans of the series will be pleased to remain. The story itself jumps around often and can be hard to keep track of, it certainly keeps you on your toes, you just have to make sure you’re paying attention to every little detail Murphy drops in front of you.
All is well and good at the moment, but can Hotel capture our hearts and not only our imagination like earlier seasons? I will be staying another night… room service!