TV Review – American Horror Story: Hotel

By Christina Bevan|April 13, 2016|Everything Is Mad Here|

In the words of Ryan Murphy, Hotel definitely isn’t a hit right out of the gate.

Denis O’Hare as Liz Taylor

American Horror Story: Hotel is the fifth installment in Ryan Murphy’s (Glee, Scream Queens) horror anthology which centers on the Hotel Cortez in downtown LA. The hotel is host to an endless array of strange and bizarre characters and incidents. One thing is certain, however; if you die in the hotel, you spend eternity confined within its walls.

Hotel clearly defines itself in style and genre with peephole-style shots and stomach-churning edits. Yet something is still missing.

The jumble of character narratives prevents Hotel from gaining any real grip. It takes at least five episodes for the series to gain momentum. Ryan Murphy’s track record is a mile long. That man’s team has knocked out hit after hit and he’s trusted by FX and Fox – we can likely afford him one miss.

Sarah Paulson as Hypodermic Sally

The final episodes draw us back to season one’s Murder House in what seems was a purposeful and calculated move.  However, it serves only to remind us that Murder House was clean, concise and meticulously executed. HoldingHotel and Murder House up in comparison probably isn’t the wisest move.

The central storyline unravels to reveal the most anticipated plot twist Hotelhas to offer. Three episodes in, there is the irony of John being the Ten Commandments killer while the killings seemingly drive him insane.

John Lowe’s story must be the first Murphy lay down. It is by far the cleanest and the only discernible through line that exists from the very beginning.  He is our gateway into the weird world of the Hotel Cortez and the payoff here is wonderful. That storyline draws us back to Murphy’s outstanding abilities to weave a psychologically mind-boggling narrative that keeps you coming back for more.

Gaga’s Countess

Until this season, I had thought American Horror Story had mastered endings. It seems I was very, very wrong. The final episode of Hotel is a fun episode. Fun. A word that should never be associated with American Horror Story. No, the final episode is a fumbling unnecessary mess. Murphy spends roughly ten minutes of the finale tying up every character’s story in a nice little bow. It’s a horror story! Who cares about a happy ending?

Overall, American Horror Story: Hotel is borderline. Despite Lady Gaga’s debut, I do not believe Hotel stands up in competition with the likes of other series. Hopefully, the next series is given the time necessary to develop a tighter story.

Originally written for The Daily Spectacle.

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About Christina Bevan

Christina Bevan is a writer of many trades based in Wales. she has developed numerous film, TV, radio and theatre projects including a TV adaptation of the Little Mermaid through the eyes of the Sea Witch. She was awarded a merit in MA Scriptwriting in 2015 and her debut novel, Caru In Wonderland, is currently available on Aspiring to the likes of Once Upon a Time and The West Wing, Christina’s goal is to produce character driven, thought provoking drama that combines the realms of the paranormal with the human emotional journey. Co-founder of Annwn Productions I Writer I TV Reviewer I Producer I Script Reader for YouGoFar Productions