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Sex, Blood And So Many Hall Children: A First Reaction After Checking In to ‘American Horror Story: Hotel’

FX
FX

When it comes to hotels, there’s a saying: If you don’t find a body in your mattress, don’t check in.

Actually, no. That’s not a thing, because that makes no sense. And neither did the majority of what we witnessed during the gut-filled, gratuitously gory bloodbath that was the season premiere of American Horror Story: Hotel, a free-for-all of emotionless, campy carnage.

The thing about the AHS franchise, directed by Ryan Murphy — who is clearly not a well person — is that the show requires an enormous, laughable suspension of disbelief (and a stomach for exposed entrails) in order to get those past those pesky things like character development, nuance and dialogue and get on already with all of the gleeful grossness.

Within just the first five minutes, two gorgeous Swedish blonde women check into the show’s suitably creepy Hotel Cortez only to discover that the foul smell permeating throughout their hotel room is in fact due to a semi-deformed, thrashing human that’s been sewn into their mattress. Upon finding this undesirable inconvenience, they decide to…check into another room.

Things don’t ultimately go too well for them in that room either, shockingly.

The Hotel Cortez is indeed the stuff of nightmares, full of boogeymen, creepy hall children, Sarah Paulson (as a strung-out narcissistic junkie), Kathy Bates (as a curt receptionist), and one blood-thirsty Countess and her boyfriend Donovan, played passionately by the multitalented Lady Gaga and Matt Bomer.

And while Gaga didn’t actually make her suitably glamorous arrival until about a half hour into the first episode, this show is by and large built around Mother Monster’s character; her evil shadow looming over the building’s staff and their (very short term) guests with her deadly blade finger glove.

As teased in interviews past, Gaga has just begun having her bloody fun as the Countess — from a kind of morbidly beautiful, choreographed foursome with Bomer and a couple that ends in throat-slashing euphoria (which, frankly, could have doubled as a video for The Fame Monster‘s “So Happy I Could Die”), to delivering camp lines meant to inspire a chilling fear, like when stroking the neck of Bates’ strung-out son (lots of heroin use in this show!) and proclaiming “Your son has a jaw line for days.” She thrives in her role, being a theater geek — she was born this way, indeed — and her showmanship and wattage as a pop star translates well as an actress. (It wouldn’t be surprising if this is ultimately just one of the major acting roles in her career. And it just wouldn’t be a Gaga character without going on about living in New York at one point during the episode!)

Like a combination of Saw meets The Shining (both of which are paid very clear homages, just from the cinematography alone), the characters delight themselves in torturing each other mentally and physically, including one particularly graphic, over-the-top rape scene involving a boogeyman with a rather sharp member and a bent-over Gabriel (Max Greenfield), a guest who gets drilled. Uh…literally.

It’s up to John Lowe (Wes Bentley) to investigate all of the gruesomeness, who in turn has been dealt tragedy along with his wife Alex (Chloe Sevigny) after their child was kidnapped years prior at a carnival. Will Drake (Cheyenne Jackson), the hotel’s new owner, adds more tension to the mix of power-hungry players. And right off the bat, the Countess does not seem to take too kindly to his unexpected acquisition of her abode.

Later on, we’re introduced to the creepy world of the hall children, who — what else? — wander the halls…and feast on unsuspecting guests time and time again. And as it turns out, their behind-the-scenes/halls life is…pretty awesome! Video games and gumball machines? Who wouldn’t want to be a hall child? Get me a silly Albert Einstein wig and sign me up.

There are plenty of unanswered questions already, and plenty more children roaming the halls: What’s the deal with strung-out Sally? Is she a ghost? Did Gabriel survive his unwanted rear attack? Who were those two dudes with their insides flipped out inside Lowe’s home? What kind of accent is that anyway, Gaga? How does one become a hall child?

It’s all a bloody mess so far (literally, those poor maids), but Gaga’s great. Here’s to more deadly finger-wagging — and more foursomes. And much more of this:

gaga-finger

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