By Lily Firth
If you tuned into “American Horror Story: Hotel” for its season premiere on Wednesday, Oct. 7, you were in for an interesting episode, one unlike anything you have ever witnessed on T.V. before. Fans of the creepy show have come to expect the worst in terms of horror and disturbing content, but it seems the writers may have outdone themselves this year.
The new season revolves around a sinister hotel that is not up to date with recent times — the hotel hallways and rooms are dark, musty and perhaps worst of all, without Wi-Fi. The entire hotel is decorated similarly to the ’70s horror film “The Shining,” as if the set designers wanted viewers to instantly get a creepy vibe and chills from the set alone.
The episode begins darkly as two young, beautiful, foreign tourists find themselves stuck at the hotel because they paid for their rooms in advance. Located in the middle of nowhere with landline telephones that malfunction frequently, the hotel is the perfect setup for a horror series since help is not easily accessible.
Immediately upon entering their room, the two girls notice a foul smell coming from the bed. When they rip open the mattress, a horribly deformed pale hand shoots out from the bed and a disfigured body crawls out from the seams. Within 10 minutes of the opening sequence, this episode will have you screaming but unable to turn away.
The cast is made up of many recognizable faces, including actors and actresses from previous seasons of the show. Unfortunately, the well-loved Jessica Lange is not featured in this season, but the show makes up for her absence with the returning faces of Evan Peters, Sarah Paulson, Kathy Bates, Lily Rabe, Matt Bomer and Wes Bentley. They have also added a number of new and noteworthy actors to the mix, including Lady Gaga, Naomi Campbell and Cheyenne Jackson.
The characters introduced throughout the episode are very unique figures. Kathy Bates plays the grouchy front desk worker, Iris, who is obsessed with cleansing people of drugs and hates anyone who uses them. Sarah Paulson takes on the character of Hypodermic Sally, a frizzy-haired, pale but sexy drug addict who lurks the halls — she and Iris hate each other for reasons revealed later on in the episode.
Bentley plays John Lowe, a murder detective who lost his son years ago and is now staying at the hotel to check out its mysterious murders. Bomer and Lady Gaga play Donovan and The Countess, respectively. Their characters are involved with each other and use their sexy demeanors to lure people into the hotel, whom they later kill and drain of blood. Jackson is introduced as Will Drake, a rich man who purchases the hotel at the end of the episode, much to the dismay of its inhabitants. Peters and Rabe have yet to be introduced, but creator Ryan Murphy has assured viewers that these fan-favorites will appear in later episodes.
Not only are the cast members and the characters interesting, but the episode also features an amazing soundtrack unlike the typical horror music scores. Each tune is well-matched to its scene. The creepy song “Neverland” by the Sisters of Mercy plays as a pretty, rich boy struts through the hotel. “Tear You Apart” by the band She Wants Revenge comes on later while the Countess and Donovan prey on two other people. Petula Clark’s song “Downtown” plays as Iris wallows in sorrow over her son’s drug use. As the episode comes to a close, the famous “Hotel California” by The Eagles begins to play. It is clear that a lot of thought went into the music selection for each scene, as they all fit each situation perfectly and draw viewers into the episode even more.
A word of caution before watching this episode though: it is not for the faint-hearted. The creators have outdone themselves with the amount of horror and gore in this episode. There are a number of disturbing scenes that may be too graphic for some, such as the dismemberment of body parts, a lengthy rape scene, a foursome, kidnapping and many throat slashings. In short, viewers should beware. This is definitely not family viewing material.
Despite all of this, I recommend the season to anyone who enjoys the horror genre and can handle a lot of blood. There are many other plot twists and cliffhangers in the episode that I do not want to give away, so you will have to watch the episode for yourself. If the first episode is anything to go by, I expect the rest of the season to be bone chilling and a real nail biter. “American Horror Story: Hotel” is truly a one of a kind show and I expect much success in its future.