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American Horror Story – My Roanoke Nightmare: “Chapter 4”

FX’s American Horror Story
Season 6, Episode 4: “Chapter 4”
Directed by Marita Grabiak
Written by John J. Gray

* For a review of Chapter 3, click here.
* For a review of Chapter 5, click here.
screen-shot-2016-10-06-at-1-26-34-amIn the talking head interviews, Matt (André Holland) relates how Shelby (Lily Rabe) was pissed after supposedly seeing him having sex with a woman in the woods. During the reenactments, Shelby (Sarah Paulson) confronts Matt (Cuba Gooding Jr.) until he breaks down: “Its like a part of my brain was cut out.” She comforts him, though the real Shelby affirms that she knew there was something not right, at all. What she saw was real.
That night Shelby sees the Pig Man. And he is also very real. Matt wrestles with him briefly before the couple get away. They’re saved by Dr. Elias Cunningham (Denis O’Hare), from out of nowhere. He uses the “Croatoan” spell, shouting it and dispelling the creature. But warns: “Hell be back.”
screen-shot-2016-10-06-at-1-29-36-amSo Dr. Cunningham tells us about Croatoan. How it was left when Roanoke Colony disappeared. Really, it’s blood magic. Spooky. The doctor quickly relays that he’s the so-called guardian of the house, trying to make sure people know about its history. Matt’s eager to kick him out, although Shelby has seen the Pig Man before. Through the craziness, she believes Elias. In the basement, he shows them some of his work: all the “paranormal activity” that’s occurred in and around the house. Essentially, a history of horror and torture concerning various families that were unfortunate enough to have bought the house over the years. Like the Chens, who were taken by surprise once the Pig Man showed up. And once Thomasin “The Butcher” White (Kathy Bates) came by? Shit. Things got much, much worse. Cunningham tells Shelby and Matt about how even those nasty nurses were afraid of the place. The Butcher did them in good, too. Real medieval style. On and on and on the tales go. He mentions the “Dying Grass Moon” as being when the disappearances and murders take place.
Lee (Angela Bassett) is on the hook for her missing daughter, though Matt and Shelby wanted to get to the bottom of the whole Priscilla mystery. Something with which Elias can help. Lots of creepiness when Matt spies the strange woman (Lady Gaga) from afar. Shelby chases her until eventually getting lost and running into some hunters – the ones Dr. Cunningham told her about, who once stayed in the house and turned their guns on each other. Well, they’re still wearing those wounds. Quite graphically; dig it. Shelby didn’t, and tried using the Croatoan spell. Doesn’t work because of the lunar cycle, so says Elias. Then in the middle of the forest they see Flora with a bunch of ghosts (people who’ve died or disappeared in the house), the Pig Man, and of course Ms. Priscilla. A horn begins to blow soon. An arrow, or three, are plugged into the poor doctor. While the couple run off there’s no doubt we’ll see Elias again. I’d bet on it.screen-shot-2016-10-06-at-1-44-14-amAt the house, Cricket Marlowe (Leslie Jordan) is ready to rock. They’re obviously ready to do whatever they can to get Lee’s daughter back. He tells them about talking to The Butcher. She’s pretty ready to rock, as well. Y’know, with the bloody moon rising and all. “Id kill for a Coke Zero right now,” Cricket says as he tries to get psyched up about what to do next. He takes off only to return hours later: “I met the bitch with the real power.” It’s that strange woods woman. She temporarily blinds him, puts a knife to his throat. Tricky lil’ Marlowe’s able to get himself out of it, after discovering a few things first. She shows him a vision. They’re in a cornfield. Hundreds of years ago. At the Lost Colony in Roanoke. This is where they came, to where the house now stands. They did terrible things, such as sacrificing little children; Cricket witnesses The Butcher smash a girl to death with a rock. Yikes. Her own son Ambrose (Wes Bentley) wasn’t pleased with the new path, under tutelage of that strange woman, the woods witch. The Butcher then pretended to repent for her wrongdoings, only to kill everyone. Even her boy. She puts a cleaver right in his chest to boot before slashing anybody not fully dead yet right into the grave. She binds them to their new land with blood. Lots of it. Her own, too. She lets the woods witch cut her throat, “bonding” the whole colony to the land “for all eternity.” Cricket says he’s got the spell to clue everything up.
Yeah, right. In his Uber on the way home Cricket spies Flora running across the road. So he gets out of the car and now you know he’s not getting back to the Millers any time soon.

 

 


Matt and Shelby wait for him. But he never comes. Night comes, Matt’s feeling a little creeped out. Foolishly, he heads outside – though with a gun – after hearing things, seeing fleeting images. The sounds they draw him to the cellar out in the woods. He finds the witch there, waiting. “Debts must be paid,” she tells him. Oh, you know what she means! Don’t pretend. A little later Shelby wakes and can’t find her husband. He’s stuck down in the cellar, mesmerised by her story. She was a “descendant of the Druids and their Roman conquerors.” Instead of being a victim, she slaughtered the soldiers keeping her captive. Anyway, Matt was lured into the honey trap. Meanwhile Shelby’s laid siege to by The Butcher and her ghostly hordes, Flora in their grasp. When Matt finally tears himself out of the spell, they get some help from Priscilla; she manages to get Flora away from them.
But poor Flora, she’s frightened. Then outside they all see Cricket. The Butcher rips his guts open while the Millers watch from inside. The colony gets truly medieval on Mr. Marlowe. Absolute savagery.
Things aren’t looking good for Matt and Shelby. We know they survive it. Yet even in the real footage of their interviews – are so sure they’ll be safe in the near future?screen-shot-2016-10-06-at-2-06-26-amscreen-shot-2016-10-06-at-2-07-15-amLove this season so much! Lots of creepiness, a bit of gore. Some strange oddities of various types. Can’t wait for more in the next chapter.

 

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American Horror Story – My Roanoke Nightmare: “Chapter 3”

FX’s American Horror Story
Season 6, Episode 3: “Chapter 3”
Directed by Jennifer Chambers Lynch (ChainedSurveillance)
Written by James Wong

* For a review of Chapter 2, click here.
* For a review of Chapter 4, click here.
screen-shot-2016-09-29-at-1-46-49-amWith Lee’s (Adina Porter) little girl disappeared, nothing in that house is going well. In the talking head interviews, the real Lee tells us about the horrifying feeling involved with a lost child, as if it’s not hard to tell just from the tears running out of her. The dramatic reenactment shows us Lee (Angela Bassett), Matt (Cuba Gooding Jr.), and Shelby (Sarah Paulson) dealing with the aftermath. Not easy. The local police aren’t too keen about helping, though they do. But that house is getting a bad reputation, as well as those living in it. Either way, Lee does her best to help with the search, along with Matt and Shelby.
Then they come across the doll Lee’s daughter Flora had, torn to bits on the ground, with a circle of blood and pig’s head to go with it. Oh, the macabre finds in those terrible woods! Naturally they’re all terrified. A ways off they find a “skeleton of a farm” where there’s more strangeness. Such as the other portions of the doll, and a pig. When the trio go inside there’s only squalor with every turn of the head. Nobody home, either.
Out in the barn, though, they find something odd and sickly. Two mentally feeble young kids left sucking on a pig’s nipples, feeding. One of the most disturbing images yet.
screen-shot-2016-09-29-at-1-55-09-amscreen-shot-2016-09-29-at-1-59-04-amSo now the police believe there’s a bit of horror really going on. Finally. The two boys from the barn are useless for help. They only scream: “Croatoan!” The real Matt (André Holland) explains they now, in the present day, understand what they didn’t at the time – this was a warning. Other than that the search goes on, even if Lee and her ex-husband Mason (Charles Malik Whitfield) are losing hope, plus at odds. He is not buying what’s going on, believing it a power play on Lee’s part, a kidnapping to regain custody somehow. For her part, Shelby tries defending her sister-in-law. Matt mostly keeps quiet, not wanting to get too involved until Mason near punches his ex-wife to the ground. The real Shelby (Lily Rabe) points out the obvious: “We were all on edge.”
In the night, Matt gets a call about a body. Is it Flora’s, or no?
Certainly not. It’s her father, Mason – strapped to a symbolic wheel and burned to a crispy bit of charcoal. Holy fuck. That’s rough. Well, what’s troubling is that last night the cameras picked up Lee heading out for several hours at quite a suspicious time. Now Shelby wonders about her sister-in-law. Matt believes something is urging them to leave, and they ought to listen. Just then a stranger turns up: Cricket Marlowe (Leslie Jordan). He claims to have been called there to help find Lee’s girl. A psychic who’s often helped the FBI in tough cases. When Shelby checks him out, he appears legitimate. Then he can hear something, guessing correctly about Flora hiding in the upstairs crawlspace. He also finds a bonnet and knows about Priscilla: “She died in the late 1500s.” You know what this leads to, a good ole fashioned seance.
Cricket gets a typical seance happening, dripping some blood into a candle, all that stuff, y’know. He calls out to Priscilla, but instead gets the response of a “horrible woman.” She speaks to him and reveals herself as The Butcher (Kathy Bates). Cricket tries to ward her off. She then splits a candle in two in front of everybody making believers out of them. “I shall stack the bodies high as cord wood,” The Butcher claims. She tells them they are but trespassers. Screaming out “CROATOAN“, Cricket sends the spirit fleeing – the same word those deformed boys screamed, the same spell Violet tried using unsuccessfully in Murder House.screen-shot-2016-09-29-at-2-05-52-amExcept now Cricket is asking for $25K to track down Flora. So Matt doesn’t want to deal with his bullshit con artist tricks. Cricket’s telling the truth, but sadly this is not the time for greed. Game changes once Lee has enough, pulling a gun to get her answers. Matt talks her down before tossing the psychic out. Before leaving he whispers something to Lee quietly: “Emily says hello. She wonders why you quit looking for her all those years ago.” Hmm, the first daughter of Lee. Secrets. The real Lee explains about having a daughter at seventeen. When Emily was four, Lee went into a store only to come back and find her daughter gone; never to be seen again. Turns out that Lee later sprung for the $25K to pay Cricket.
We learn more about The Butcher from Cricket. Her “Christian name” was Thomason White – wife to governor of Roanoke, The Lost Colony. She was in charge until her husband came home from a journey. Things were getting scarce, people around her worried. Of course Lee doesn’t care about any of that, but Cricket advises not all the public’s been told about Roanoke is true. Seems that back in Thomason’s day she was overtaken. Even her own son Ambrose (Wes Bentley) is forced to turn his back on her. They left her in the forest by herself as they travelled inward somewhere better. There, a strange woman (Lady Gaga) saves her, killing a wild pig that tries to kill her, before feeding Thomason a beating heart and asking for her soul.
And thus began the revenge of Thomas White, The Butcher. She tracked down the men who left her to die, chopping them down one by one. Ambrose is the last left, whom she asks to “beg for a reprieve.” It’s only the fact he is her son that saves him; this time. Where does this get us? Cricket tells that the colony then moved inland, right to where the big house stands today. Dun-dun-DUNNNN!screen-shot-2016-09-29-at-2-33-44-amOut amongst the darkness Cricket calls out to Priscilla, only finding The Butcher and her people. She entertains Cricket’s questions about Flora. A moment later, Lee even says they’ll burn the house down as long as they get her daughter back.
But out of nowhere, Matt disappears. In present day he says he can’t remember ever leaving. When Shelby finds him he’s in the trees having sex with that strange woman who visited The Butcher, animal skull on her head, and two hillbillies watching, masturbating. Good LORD! Present day Shelby looks appropriately torn up.
When Matt shows up he has no clue about what Shelby saw. She’s obviously going crazy, and he’s clueless. No time to worry about that, though. Lee’s being hauled off by the police, and Matt believes it was Shelby, which it was likely. Oh, this is about to get very, very paranoid from here on in.

 

 

 

 


Another stunningly creepy episode for this season. Loving My Roanoke Nightmare, plenty of eerie, juicy, wild, weird stuff going down!
Excited for “Chapter 4” and whatever it brings.

American Horror Story – My Roanoke Nightmare: “Chapter 1”

FX’s American Horror Story
Season 6, Episode 1: “Chapter 1”
Directed by Bradley Buecker
Written by Brad Falchuk & Ryan Murphy

* For a review of Chapter 2, click here.
screen-shot-2016-09-15-at-1-23-25-amThis year’s theme? My Roanoke Nightmare. Delicious.
We open on a series of talking heads. Almost seems like an Amityville Horror sort of thing, too. My Amityville Horror is a documentary by the man who was a child during the supposed Lutz story, and this seems to mirror its style a bit.
Well, Shelby (Rabe) and Matt (André Holland) are a married couple. They tell us about their relationship, what they do for a living, so on. They talk about the “worst night” of the their lives when Matt is randomly knocked out by some gang of kids. He nearly died because of their foolish brutality. We see Sarah Paulson playing Shelby and Cuba Gooding Jr. as Matt, like reenactments of that night. Sadly, Shelby lost her baby on that evening. After the event they took a trip out into the wilderness: “We werent city folks,” Matt says.
Out in the woods is an old farm house. A massive backwoods mansion. The house is cheap, just like the one the Lutz family fell into buying in Amityville. They snatch it up, now owning a surely haunted house. Shelby knew it from the beginning, in the back of her mind.
screen-shot-2016-09-15-at-1-23-34-amStrange banging in the night already starts Shelby and Matt off on a rough note. Interracial couple, rednecks kicking around. They’ve had troubles before, but were more than willing to fend any trouble off. Nothing’s too great. When Shelby’s home alone it starts raining teeth. TEETH! That’s pretty fucking unsettling. Of course no teeth are left when Matt gets back. To be expected when you live in a haunted Southern mansion. I mean, even the house, the big windows upstairs, the shape, it’s so reminiscent of The Amityville Horror. Not in a bad sense. Dig the homage.
One evening while cooking, home alone, Shelby sees two young women pass in the hallway, staring at her. Nice bit of tension, as she goes to check out where the women went. Finding nothing, only a suspenseful moment or two. Later when she relaxes in the hot tub outside until somebody holds her under. She calls Matt, who gets home quick, and the police, of course. Although the police don’t care much. Lots of paranoia swirling already. The couple aren’t sure anymore what to believe. So I LOVE the cinematography so far this season – the house especially looks ominous even in how the shadows cast over everything, big windows everywhere like eyes, darkness crowding around them.
Living in the house only gets worse, as you’d imagine. Weird noises get Matt out of bed and he finds a mutilated pig on the porch outside. He doesn’t tell his wife, he assumes it was the redneck boys who wanted to buy the house. So like a smart person, he hooks up lots of cameras and a nice security system hooked to his phone. Better yet, he gets his sister Lee (Angela Bassett) to go out there and look after Shelby. Lee was a bad ass cop, whose injury from getting shot on the job led her to taking medication a bit liberally. One day, really lit up on pills, she chased a serial rapist and her addiction was discovered. This got her fired, before wreaking absolute havoc on her personal life; she lost her husband, even her daughter. A sad, human tragedy.

 

 


Nothing changes in the house. Just because a security system’s in place and a former cop is looking after Shelby doesn’t mean whatever inhabits that house is going away. Paranoia runs mad now with another person kicking around. Only makes it easier for Shelby to confuse ghostly apparitions with Lee moving things, walking around, et cetera. An added interest is that Lee is still an addict. She asks Shelby not to drink, though I’m not sure how well that will hold up. On the other side is the fact Lee is also sceptical of her sister-in-law.
Then the house starts working on Lee. A lone wine bottle rolls across the floor at her, so she assumes it’s Lee being a bitch. “Why would you do something like that?” she questions Shelby. Now the accusations fly between the both of them. Meanwhile, Matt gets a text from his automated security: people in hoods carrying torches have headed through the gate up to the house. Oh, my. He tries to call the ladies, but they’re too busy arguing.
Suddenly, Shelby and Lee are interrupted by a videotape playing on the television, the strange noises from the night coming out – then on the tape appears a pig-headed man in the wilderness, squealing and bloody. Like anybody would be, the women are terrified. The hooded people with their torches get inside the house while the pair hide, and Matt rushes from a couple hours away to try getting home. When the ladies finally come out of hiding there are tons of creepy stick figures a la Blair Witch Project hanging about the house. Cops once more do nothing.
screen-shot-2016-09-15-at-1-45-55-amscreen-shot-2016-09-15-at-1-59-43-amWhen Matt is back he watches the video, only getting angrier at the local hillbillies. He still doesn’t want to leave; Shelby takes off in the car thinking only “fight or flight.” On her way she hits somebody in the road (it’s Kathy Bates and she just walks it off). Shelby chases her into the nearby woods and gets lost. She winds up finding more of the stick figures that were hung in the house, which sends her running into a place where the earth below seems to breathe. Deeper in she comes across a man missing some of his scalp and skull, brain exposed. And in the darkness lurks a man holding a torch, among many others holding torches – Wes Bentley’s character. We’ll just have to wait and find out who he is, as well as what happens to Shelby out there.

 

 


I don’t care what any of these other horror sites are saying – they probably won’t continue watching after the first episode of the series, anyways. So fuck ’em. This was a great start to the new series. Fun references, eerie shots and sequences, a bit of character intrigue and gritty development. “Chapter Two” will likely be good fun.

American Horror Story – Hotel, Episode 12: “Be Our Guest”

FX’s American Horror Story
Season 5, Episode 12: “Be Our Guest”
Directed by Bradley Buecker
Written by John J. Gray

* For a review of the penultimate Season 5 finisher, “Battle Royale” – click here
screen-shot-2016-11-17-at-4-07-52-pmThis finale for the wild Season 5 begins with Liz Taylor (Denis O’Hare) talking about taking over the Hotel Cortez. Only she has her throat slit with a gloved hand, not unlike the one we’ve seen Countess (Lady Gaga) wear earlier in the season.
Cut to a couple checking in. Iris (Kathy Bates) and Liz woo them, with champagne on arrival, hoping to make the guests feel at home and ready for a wonderful time. They’re apparently from some website, one which reviews hotels. “It was going to take 4stars on the internet,” Liz tells us. All the rooms are newly redone, looking beautiful; even Egyptian Cotton on all the beds. Looks a far cry from where it was once.
Except Sally (Sarah Paulson) shows up from out of nowhere to greet the new guests, lazing around smoking in her usual leopard print. She’s even getting ready to shoot up, which soon does in one of the guests. The other one goes running in the halls, coming across Will Drake (Cheyenne Jackson). “Im new at this murder game and jesus christ is it a thrill,” he says before stabbing her to death. Seems like things aren’t exactly perfect at the Hotel Cortez, despite the beautiful surface.
A very wonderful start to this final episode for the season. Plenty more macabre, nasty fun to come, I hope.
screen-shot-2016-11-17-at-4-09-27-pmThe meeting is called, as Liz and Iris try to create order among the ghosts of the Cortez. They all meet at the bar, everyone wanting something different. Marcy wants a new room. Will and Sally would rather kill. The rest are too self-involved, but not those two. They’re more excited for killing: “Im dead,” Will tells them, “but Ive never felt more alive.”
Up turns James March (Evan Peters), wanting them all to stop the killing. Funny, right? He’s mostly concerned about what happens if the Cortez gets shut down, torn down, bulldozed. Where will they go? In the meantime, everyone’s aruging. Until March flips a lid and sets them all straight. They need to make it a historic landmark, March claims, only they’ve got to keep the building there another 10 years, until 2026. Sally needs a “soulmate,” though, and she doesn’t look poised to change. Even with the threat of March sicking the Addiction Demon on her, as once he did before.
Most interesting is how Iris shows Sally about the world outside, social media, which will help her not be so alone in the world. She can’t go out, but that doesn’t mean Sally can’t interact with the world. Great way to bring the issues of today into the show, instead of only relying on dates onscreen from time to time. Plus, it goes well with Sally’s 1990’s rock/grunge character, to think she might be someone who would fall into social media and all its trappings.
Mainly, everyone is now trying to figure out the way to head into the future. Liz has all but convinced Drake to stay holed up in the hotel, all “Howard Hughes” and such. In fact, Liz is now Will’s acting hand at his company. Amazing new age company being led by Ms. Liz Taylor. The fashion goes on, the clothing still coming out – even Sally models bits of his work, plus Ramona (Angela Bassett) and other ghosts in the Cortez.
But sadly, Liz misses Tristan. Then we’re introduced to an old, familiar face – Billie Dean Howard (Sarah Paulson) back from Season 1’s Murder House. What a beautiful return to the original season, another character linking things together. Great season for this sort of thing, with Queenie in the last episode, Marcy showing up from time to time, and more. This sequence sees Billie helping Liz to try reconnecting with his now lost, murdered love, Tristan Duffy (Finn Wittrock). But it seems Tristan isn’t willing to fully reconnect, he’s angered and doesn’t want to talk with Liz. Not right now, anyways.
But wait – it’s Donovan now reaching from the other side, talking of “pancakes with blueberries” and that it’s “always Saturday morning” wherever he is.


Gathering the ghosts together, Liz tells everybody she’s got prostate cancer; inoperable, “nothing to do.” All those ghosts are worried, but Liz absolutely has a plan. Of sorts. Weapons are out on the bed, ready for everyone. She wants to be hacked, bludgeoned, et cetera, to death. “Its not murder,” Sallys says to them: “She wants to be reborn.”
“The Ballad of Lucy Jordan” by Marianne Faithfull starts to play while everybody weapons up. Liz lays back on the bed, ready for the murder to take place. At the door, though, Countess arrives. “You were always my fondest creation,” Countess tells Liz. She’s there to join in on the fun: “I wanted to be here to help you transition.” Great word play all around with this sequence. Great, viciously bloody fun. This takes us back to that first scene, watching Liz have her throat cut open, the blood flying and beginning to run down onto the floor. Savagery – the best sort which Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk continually give us. And in death? Liz finds Tristan once more.
Down at the desk a woman shows up on Devil’s Night in 2022. She booked a room way in advance. In other news, Iris and Ramona are lamenting too much publicity after Billie Dean Howard’s specials aired on television, bringing out the weirdos, the perverts. Funniest is seeing John Lowe in league with them all, just another part of them. We get cuts back to Howard doing her various specials in Room 44, Room 64, and so on.
Now Lowe has got himself a plan. They call Billie Dean down for another taping, as she continues to try calling on the Ten Commandment Killer to reveal himself.
Then there’s Alex Lowe (Chloë Sevigny) and John’s family. They made things work in the outside world. Or at least, as best as it would work. They tried. Out on the streets, Lowe killed, stockpiling blood in coffee canisters, stalking the streets for more victims with which to feed the family. One night, he finds himself caught by the police. Bleeding, full of bullets, John tries his best to make it back inside the Cortez, to die in there. Instead of making it all the way, he’s left on the sidewalk. Returning on Devil’s Night, though, it is easy to see James March has a hand in it all. Another dinner party, perhaps?


Jeffrey Dahmer, John Wayne Gacy (John Carroll Lynch), Richard Ramirez, Aileen Wuornos (Lily Rabe), they’re all back! Gacy’s trying to teach Jeffrey to talk to guys, in such a creepy scene. The music in the background plays heavy, lazy. Everything is terrifying and dark. John introduces her around the place, acclimating her to the strange surroundings. The Zodiac is there, too. Quiet and chilling in the corner with his baghead costume on, totally silent. A surreal sequence here, as Billie Dean navigates through “all these dark spirits.” March appears soon enough to toast them all. Lots of fun! A top five favourite sequence out of this Hotel season.
This is all a way to get Howard to stop doing specials at the hotel. The ghosts all want, need, to be left alone. So they need to her to give up. None of the ghosts can leave, but Ramona shows up to tell her: “I can.” Seems ole Billie Dean has more to fear than a few ghosts. Best she start moving on, right?screen-shot-2016-11-17-at-4-15-39-pmIn Room 64, John keeps his family. His daughter has grown a few years, obviously, and the others sleep soundly. Must be strange for her to age while the family stays the same, forever. Yet she seems fine with that mostly. It’s nice for John and Alex, who have their son back and eternally get to sleep next to one another, just like a new family. A creepy finish, as John has to go away for a whole year until the next Devil’s Night, when the family will come back together in the Cortez, to enjoy each other’s company, to love one another for that single day. A semi-happy ending in one sense, but a deeply tragic one for Lowe.
The very end of the episode sees The Countess at a table in the lounge, drinking, smoking. Out of the dark hallways comes a man she likes the look of, so off she goes to sit next to him at the bar. He sort of looks like Donovan – hair slicked back, handsome, a bit of stubble. Is that the intention? I think so. “You have a jawline for days,” says the Countess, right before everything cuts to black. Beautiful.
screen-shot-2016-11-17-at-4-16-09-pmLoved the end to this season. An impressive full circle, but in a way that doesn’t only recall the beginning of the season, the beginning of character relationships, it also adds things on, making the layers deeper, more enticing. People complained a ton about this season. Me? I dig it. Totally. Stay tuned, we’ll see where Falchuk and Murphy go from here next season.

American Horror Story – Hotel, Episode 11: “Battle Royale”

FX’s American Horror Story
Season 5, Episode 11: “Battle Royale”
Directed by Michael Uppendahl
Written by Ned Martel

* For a review of the previous episode, “She Gets Revenge” – click here
* For a review of the Season 5 finale, “Be Our Guest” – click here
screen-shot-2016-11-17-at-3-53-25-pmThe penultimate Season 5 episode “Battle Royale” begins with Liz Taylor (Denis O’Hare) and Iris (Kathy Bates) coming together, bed full of guns, just before the events of the previous episode’s finale, when The Countess (Lady Gaga) and Donovan (Matt Bomer) were reuniting briefly before getting gunned down, seemingly.
Here, revisiting those moments, we hear “Seconds” by The Human League. As the guns finally blaze, Liz and Iris get a few into The Countess, while Donovan also takes shots. Iris wants to help her soon who wants nothing else but to not die inside the Hotel Cortez. Naturally, right? The pair try and help Donovan, in an excellently filmed scene which almost puts you directly in his shoes, the waving camerawork, the point-of-view, all of it. Luckily they get him out onto the street where Donovan bleeds out – his final word? “Mom.” This season is winding up for a nice, and surely at times brutal finale.
screen-shot-2016-11-17-at-3-53-45-pmFor The Countess, there’s bullet removal by Hypodermic Sally (Sarah Paulson). Then later she wakes to flashes of nastiness before finally coming to all the way. Sally needs her to stick around because there’s all but literally no one else left for her; to use, to manipulate, whatever. Sally reminisces about a drug dealer, whose past included a first handjob from – you guessed it – the woman herself. This leads into a bit of backstory for her, a slight and tenuous bonding between her and The Countess.
Flashback to 1993 in Los Angeles, as Sally’s musician friends use her songs, record them, and go to the top. Meanwhile, she’s more like the nasty delinquent enabling the talented people around her to do all sorts of drugs, et cetera. Not that they weren’t eating it up, but still. “Do you trust me?” Sally asks them, before we see cuts of them sewing one another together, higher than the sky on drugs. Of course, then they both overdose, as Sally’s trapped between them, linked up. A sort of nasty Human Centipede-like homage except better, more fitting; Sally was truly trapped with addiction for five long days. This is where the Addiction Demon comes in, torturing her for days. Finally she ripped herself out of the bonds. WOW! Amazing, amazing story to Sally. Never expected such brutality. This episode is honestly one of the most filmic in the entire history of the series, to me. The way it’s filmed, the look, the heaviness, every bit amounts to an incredible masterpiece. And that’s only the first 12 minutes. Lots more to come.
Over at the Lowe household, John (Wes Bentley ) and Alex (Chloë Sevigny) bring their children home, to be “a family again.” Alex calls drinking blood taking medicine, though, young Scarlett knows better. But John’s committed to shedding his life as The Ten Commandments Killer, everything at the Cortez; he wants a normal family life again.
The Countess is still suffering. Sally brings in the little white haired children, saying she’ll have to use them for blood. Even though Countess doesn’t want that, the children agree: “Let us help, mommy.”
screen-shot-2016-11-17-at-3-56-02-pmAt the same time, Iris is grieving the loss of her son. Liz helped by incinerating him, so as to not have to throw him down the chute with all the rest of the trash killed in the hotel. It’s funny how among all the horror, the murder, the blood, you can really feel for a character like Iris. She only ever came to the hotel for her son, now he’s gone, dust. He was her world. “We were so much alike,” she reminisces, “maybe that’s why we couldnt be close.” Afterwards, leaving Miss Evers (Mare Winningham) to clean up the mess she made with the ashes, Iris heads up on top of the hotel, looking out to the horizon. A sort of beautiful, weird moment all in one.
Dressed and made up, Liz strolls down the hall some time later with a now clean Iris. They head down the locked up hallway, where bodies are strewn everywhere, from that of Will Drake (Cheyenne Jackson) to the bunch of vampire children. Not to mention, Ramona Royale (Angela Bassett) who emerges strong and healthy from around a corner, blood stained, spiteful.

Up shows a witch from down in New Orleans – yes, it’s Queenie (Gabourey Sidibe). She’s going to do a bit of game show fun and all that Los Angeles type of stuff. Unfortunately, though, I think she checked into the wrong hotel.
Theres a lot of bad juju in this room,” says Queenie after entering the place she’s meant to stay all night. She doesn’t like the place, but Iris and Liz con her into staying. Then when Ramona comes out of the shower, slashing away at Queenie, there comes the voodoo doll stuff. Pretty interesting fight starts between the two – a sort-of-vampire versus a voodoo witch. Out of nowhere, James March (Evan Peters) stabs Queenie with a big blade from his cane – he’s a ghost, remember? So the rules are skewed. Ramona drinks Queenie’s blood, getting her fill. Then James says: “I want you to kill The Countess“… he’s got big plans. He doesn’t want to see his love walk away from the hotel.
John Lowe arrives home. In his trunk, he has a man whom he questions about being clean. Do you know what he’s got in store for him? I know I do. Some of that medicine Alex was talking about earlier. Is the new way for the Swiss Family Lowe? We’ll see. Inside, John finds nobody. Only a key for the Cortez hanging from a light fixture.
Cut to Lowe back at the hotel, running through the halls. Straight to Room 64. There on the bed is Sally, waiting. She claims March took his family – “One last kill and I can take you to your family,” says Sally. The final commandment left? Thou shalt not commit murder.screen-shot-2016-11-17-at-4-01-59-pmBusy fitting Ramona Royale for a dress, Liz is preparing her for the coming slaughter. But Ramona has “witchs blood” flowing through her, she doesn’t want any of the assorted guns or weapons Iris and Liz have got kicking around.
With “I Wanna Be Adored” by The Stone Roses playing in the background, The Countess is having a reunion with Ramona. They talk of how their blood smells – “almonds” for Ramona, “black licorice” for The Countess. They miss one another, even if Ramona wants to kill the bitch. Likewise, Countess misses her, too. No matter what’s happened, or what may come next.
Just after the two make love, and The Countess is let free, she meets John Lowe when the elevator heads down. He blasts her away, letting her bleed on the elevator’s floor. Countess is the final commandment. Her head is now in a jar on the shelf upstairs, everyone reeling with pride over John’s accomplishments. Only Sally’s got further plans – thwarted after March stops her from stabbing him, keeping him there forever. Relieved? Well, John’s a killer, as well. Shouldn’t be too relieved for the man.
March sits at his table and asks Miss Evers about when she first discovered being a ghost. Then he gets upset over the dinner arrangements. At the door is The Countess, whose arrival at dinner has prompted James to be a little tempestuous, and Miss Evers to be get a bit saucy. Countess is adjusting to her “new state,” as March calls it.

 

 

 


Big reveal comes when we discover it was Miss Evers who called the police all those years ago. She wanted him, her jealousy got the better of her. “I wanted us to die together,” she wails. Only things went… a little differently, than expected. This leads to Miss Evers being banished from March’s presence, heading off into the darkness.
The episode finishes with March happy to have The Countess back. Although, she’s much less thrilled. Her eternity is relegated to a space where she’ll never be happy, ever again.
screen-shot-2016-11-17-at-4-06-27-pmExcited to review the finale of Season 5, “Be Our Guest”. Looking forward to a weird, wild episode to finish off this bloody, violent, sexy and odd season. Stay tuned.

American Horror Story – Hotel, Episode 10: “She Gets Revenge”

FX’s American Horror Story
Season 5, Episode 10: “She Gets Revenge”
Directed by Bradley Buecker
Written by James Wong

* For a review of the previous episode, “She Wants Revenge” – click here
* For a review of the next episode, “Battle Royale” – click here
screen-shot-2016-11-17-at-3-43-42-pmOnly a few more nights left at the Hotel Cortez.
Tonight we open with the wondrous Liz Taylor (Denis O’Hare) lamenting “forgotten hotels,” such as the Cortez, and what they’re good for – from drug deals to indiscretions of all kinds. Love that we’re getting more Liz because I find her spectacular. O’Hare is an enormously talented character actor who gives life and luxury to Liz. Here, we see more depth to her and all she is, as she tells us about one particular old couple who commit suicide/murder together in order to not have to see the twilight years come for them. After their brains are blown out, Iris (Kathy Bates) does lamenting of her own. Mostly about the time it’ll take to clean the blood out and scrub the walls. Meanwhile, Liz cries because she may “never be happy again,” unlike the happy couple who chose to go out on their own terms right there in that very room. She picks up a gun, wanting to die. But Iris reminds her that would only see her trapped in the Cortez for eternity. I’m glad Liz choose not to, at least not right now. She tells Iris there’s a little unfinished business that might be good to tend to: her son. The old life of Iris still lingers, that’s how much she obviously cares about his boy. Both she and Iris have their plans, together, for a grand finale to life.
screen-shot-2016-11-17-at-3-44-10-pmLiz has Miss Evers (Mare Winningham) calling up his son. She can’t bear to talk to him herself, not just yet; after all it’s been 31 years. Liz says she’s “written letters” and “god knows Ive written cheques.” But we’ll see if this comes around to a good thing for her. For now, Miss Evers is giving Liz a hard time over lifestyle choices, et cetera. She fears Liz is expecting too much of her son, for him to be too understanding.
In other parts of the Cortez, John Lowe (Wes Bentley) is admiring his Ten Commandments work, while Sally (Sarah Paulson) watches on. We cut to John, knife in hand, approaching some – what looks like – Mexican faithfuls, whom he cuts down. He doesn’t have much work left to do before he’s free: “One more and youll be free,” Sally tells him.
Then there’s Donovan (Matt Bomer) who approaches Rudolph Valentino (Finn Wittrock) in his motel room, all while Natacha (Alexandria Daddario) goes to see The Countess (Lady Gaga). Great editing back and forth between their two paralleled conversations. On the one hand, Rudolph and Donovan have a semi-manly confrontation. On the other hand, Countess seduces Natacha a little before they each take out a knife. Only when Rudolph produces a Middle Eastern style sword, Donovan replies “Bitch please,” along with a bullet, or a couple, to his face. At the hotel, Countess likewise slashes down Natacha. Ouch. How will The Countess react after she discovers Rudie dead?
Back to James March (Evan Peters), a late favourite of mine in this season. He’s suited up in his creepy leather mask with a new sacrifice at his hands. He lights a man on fire, who quickly perishes in flame. Right afterwards, Lowe shows up. They’re quite cozy now, the two buddies. Murderers in league. Nice special makeup effects here, too; some nasty burn work. That’s something I forget to mention often in these reviews. I love all the makeup and special effects work in general the series has done, from blood and gore to more understated stuff. Plus, there’s great costume and set design.
John is reunited with his wife Alex (Chloë Sevigny) for the time being. She has certainly changed. As has John, or perhaps he hasn’t changed just accepted his identity. He’s hurt by the lies she fed him, concerning their children. But at the same time, John has both accepted his new murderous identity, as well as accepted his own faults in everything. A dark turn of events. Regardless, the husband and wife are seemingly back on the same side. She admits to him what happened with the children, and the fact The Countess has threatened to kill her and their boy if she doesn’t control the vampire outbreak amongst the young ones. John has agreed to help. Will this be a husband-wife blood bath of some sort coming up? Can’t wait to find out.

 

 


Then Douglas (Josh Braaten) shows up at the Cortez, sitting down for a drink. Liz serves him up a drink, then they chat together a good long while. Douglas even talks about his father, who split, and that it was just he and his mother. He mentions about being in town to finally reconnect with his father. Such an emotional moment to watch Douglas walk away, Liz left wanting to say all the things that need to be said, only afraid to go ahead and do it.
But more importantly, John is helping Alex. They sneak into a house, which looks like the one where she last saw the kids. John is still in cop-mode, even holding his gun and flashlight like an officer of the law. There’s blood on the floor downstairs in huge splashes. Upstairs, John tries to find anything in terms of a clue. Out of nowhere, one of the kids shows up trying to stab Alex. More come after John appears. One of the young girls is very sick, dying, but the kids aren’t being any help obviously. The lead kid is upset about the dead girl, though, his other idiot friend seems hellbent against adult involvement.
The Countess is explaining to detectives where she last saw Will Drake (Cheyenne Jackson). He’s nowhere to be found. One cop says it could be “cold feet.” Yet Countess disagrees. Then, to her surprise, Will shows up in a slick black suit looking better than ever. The look on her face is worth a million words. “You murdered me, you bitch,” Will spits venomously at his wife. But she’s not happy how he treated Bartholomew, the things he said. Spiteful, no? She was going to do it anyway. Countess has it all figured out, or that’s what she’d have others believe.
Later on, John and Alex show up with the kids back at the hotel. Finally, the killer vampire children have been convinced to settle down. They lead the kids to a hallway and tell them there’s a room a ways down where they can rest, wait for some food. Reluctantly the children go inside, except the jerk, who John knocks on his ass into the hall. They’re locked away in the darkness by the Lowes. What follows is a descent into Lord of the Flies territory, only with vampire kids, and instead of an island a hotel’s forgotten hallway. Best of all? Ramona Royale (Angela Bassett) turns a corner, full of blood, and sees the children: “Mm. Mama smells appetizers.”

 

 


What I love about this entire sequence of scenes is the way John and his wife seem like a happy couple again, now that they’re both monsters of sorts. On top of all that, Sally shows up asking if he came inside her, or if he “shot it on her tits” the way he does with her, because “with a whore its always on the tits.” So even with the happy couple dynamic, Sally is still kicking around as the mistress in John’s new fucked up world. Sally is a drug addicted ghost of some type, a demon even. Alex is a vampire. John is the Ten Commandments Killer. But Sally says “she doesnt know about younot like I do.” He wants to do it for his family, though, we know that addiction is strong. And it never lets go easily. Sally and John end up having a knife-point confrontation; she isn’t pleased with his decision to be with Alex.
Then, the addiction demon briefly appears in flashes behind Sally in the hallway, its drill-bit dildo barely visible for a moment in time.
Douglas returns to the hotel. He reveals knowledge of his father; at first Liz is a little ashamed, but quickly comes to see things are okay. Well, not okay. But nothing crazy seems poised to happen. Liz is happy to see Doug is a well-adjusted, grown, responsible man. Doug isn’t outraged by his father, his lifestyle: “Theres plenty of room for another woman in my life,” he tells Liz, who staggers back in emotion. Amazing. I hope this is all headed somewhere nice, a bit of a reprieve in the life of Liz.
Other seemingly happy times between Donovan and Countess at dinner. She talks about what she did to Will Drake, which he loves, of course. Lots of hilarious inclusion of modern talk and technology, modern phrases like “hatewatch” and “FaceTime.” Then, Countess finds Rudolph with his face shot to pieces at the motel. Brutal. Though, I don’t care about her pain. She deserves all she gets. Will she get revenge in this episode, or will another she get her revenge?
Over in a different room, Iris shows Liz a various assortment of guns, knives, poison possibly, slipknots, and so on. As well as a final video, tribute to her including good pictures and one of herself with a cat; all to be a “beacon of hope for my 3 follows on Instagram.” Only Liz doesn’t want to go out any longer. She wants a connection with Doug now. Now, Iris is abandoned once more; she feels as if everyone has left her behind. Liz has got other plans: “Dammit, were the ones who should inherit the earth,” she tells Iris. Will these shes get revenge?

 

 


Alex and John go to the weird video game room, where father is reunited with long lost son Holden. He cries and takes the boy in his arms, happily embracing the son he never thought he’d see again. John loves his family, even if two of its members are now vampires. But what will The Countess have to say about this? Is she simply going to let Holden leave, letting Alex go? And what about John – can he abandon his Ten Commandments work? On their way out of the hotel, the Lowes are confronted by an angry Sally who swears on her soul: “I will kill you.”
In the penthouse, Donovan rocks out to Drake’s “Hotline Bling” until being interrupted by The Countess’ cold, dark presence. She talks about Rudolph, her search for him over a century. She and Donovan exchange thoughts about “being trapped here“, inside the walls of the Cortez.

He made me everything I am
And you made me, in his image.”

Before Countess can kill Donovan, in bust the two bad asses Liz and Iris, each wielding two guns, blasting at their nemesis. Though we don’t see what happens. Only a cut to black.
screen-shot-2016-11-17-at-3-52-06-pmVery excited to see the next episode, “Battle Royale.” We’ll see what happens with Countess, Donovan, and the two new gangsters in Liz and Iris. Stay tuned with me, fellow fans!

American Horror Story – Hotel, Episode 8: “The Ten Commandments Killer”

FX’s American Horror Story
Season 5, Episode 8: “The Ten Commandments Killer”
Directed by Loni Peristere
Written by Ryan Murphy

* For a review of the previous episode, “Flicker” – click here
* For a review of the next episode, “She Wants Revenge” – click here

 


The end of the previous episode saw John Lowe (Wes Bentley) watch on helplessly as Wren (Jessica Belkin) ran into the road getting killed by a truck. Here, we begin with him dazed, everyone wondering what exactly happened.
Back at the Hotel Cortez, Liz Taylor (Denis O’Hare) deals with a belligerent Lowe. Sally (Sarah Paulson) shows up, too. He keeps demanding to see the Ten Commandments Killer, over and over. Until finally Sally agrees to take John to the killer, where “hes been hiding.” Ominous. They head up to Room 64. “Is this a joke?” Lowe asks. But Sally insists there are answers inside. She starts talking about James Patrick March (Evan Peters). Though, it can’t be him. He’s dead. In a secret chamber behind one of the walls, there are a bunch of dismembered body parts, teeth, brain, and so on; each inscribed with one of the Ten Commandments. There needs to be a successor. All of a sudden, John seems to be remembering all the murders as being committed by him – he is the Ten Commandments Killer.
Really, though? I’ve got to say, not that I didn’t see it coming a little. But I’m still not impressed. Because you can see this coming a mile away. Or is this the whole truth? Are we really being given such a wild revelation, a supposedly big one, in the opening of an episode? I’m not sure. We’ll see as the episode goes on. I just feel a little disappointed if this is the real case, if John is actually the killer.

Nobody let him in: he had a key.”

screen-shot-2016-11-17-at-3-24-57-pmDown at the morgue, John shows up to freak out his old partner Andy (Richard T. Jones) a bit. He wants to confess. First of all, he looks like absolute roadkill. So it’s creepy. Then he lays out a timeline of when he first went to the Hotel Cortez, a drunken night five years ago – 2010. Flash to that night with Liz tending bar, Sally hanging off it smoking and Donovan (Matt Bomer) lurking among the shadows. They all sort of descend upon him, eerie and foreboding. John sucks down drinks and finds himself invited to a party upstairs.
Meanwhile, the hilariously unsettling March has a monthly dinner with The Countess (Lady Gaga). They’re interrupted by Donovan, who brings along Detective Lowe. I suppose ole Jimmy loves when a man finds himself in despair, looking to “drink himself to death.” The attitude in which Lowe finds himself is perfect for March. He’s very intrigued by John and his lowly state of depression. They have a strange conversation, at times funny and others pretty creepy. March happens to repeat a phrase Iris (Kathy Bates) said a few episodes ago: “Black as the ace of spades.” I found that a little interesting, maybe nothing. But it was good. The entire sequence between Wes Bentley and Evan Peters is pretty damn awesome. I love them both as actors, personally. It took me a few episodes to warm to Peters’ March character, then after that I couldn’t get enough.
So John’s confessing all this to his partner. It appears to us that March and The Countess played into his madness. John losing his boy, or having him stolen, was all a part of their ruse. To apprentice him into being a successor to the throne of March, unlike Gacy, Ramirez or “that poof” Dahmer as March himself puts it.

 

 


Lowe talks about living two split lives: one at home with his wife, one at the Cortez with March. For the span of five years. March infiltrated his head with horrific ideas. He shows John around the hotel a little, by creepy candlelight, including a spot were he mounted the head of his former accountant. Naturally, John recoils at first. But slowly, his faith in the law slipping, the poor detective falls into March’s cold dark grip. On the anniversary of what he believed as his son’s death, John is back with March at the Cortez; current day 2015. “There’s no such thing as justice anymore,” says Lowe. March tells the tale of a pedophile who came to the hotel, which includes Polaroids Miss Evers (Mare Winningham) found. Lowe ends up at this man’s place – where the Oscar statuette was supposed to be purchased – and beats him to death. He then claims to have tried to hang himself, but Sally cut him down (she was actually watching him die; March cut him down). March and Hypodermic Sally/the Drill-bit Dildo Demon have a sort of pact, as well.
I’m starting to enjoy John as the killer. But where do we go from here? That’s my only question. Even though the “twist” was predictable to many, I don’t think it’s bad. At all. They tie everything back into itself, so many different little pieces, so well. It’s good writing, in my mind. More than that, I love the Bentley plays Lowe. Lots seem to disagree, but fuck ’em. He’s a solid actor, always has been, and here he gives a pretty unnerving performance as the man driven to complete insanity, to terrifying murder.screen-shot-2016-11-17-at-3-31-31-pm

Youre home, John.”

screen-shot-2016-11-17-at-3-32-09-pmWith the end of this episode, we’re left with John as the killer. Is it real? Or is John only being manipulated into believing it so? I’m still unsure. But as I said, I’m easing into the idea of Lowe as the Ten Commandments Killer. Although, one little screenshot I included in this review does make me question, very subtly. Supposedly, though, this is the case. John is the killer. Just not sure where Ryan Murphy & Co. will be taking things from here.
Stay tuned for a review of the next episode, “She Wants Revenge.”

 

American Horror Story – Hotel, Episode 6: “Room 33”

FX’s American Horror Story
Season 5, Episode 6: “Room 33”
Directed by Loni Peristere
Written by John J. Gray

* For a review of the previous episode, “Room Service” – click here
* For a review of the next episode, “Flicker” – click here
screen-shot-2016-11-17-at-1-11-31-amThis week’s episode, “Room 33”, begins with a nice flashback to 1926 in Los Angeles. The Countess (Lady Gaga) goes to – yes – MURDER HOUSE from Season 1. She’s pregnant, and ole Charles Montgomery (Matt Ross) has the solution.
I’m loving this return to the first season, such an excellent connection. It isn’t passing either, like the earlier episode with Marcy the realtor. This opening sequence is slightly gruesome, especially once Montgomery takes a good huff of the inhalants to get things going. But the real fun begins when the baby ripped from Countess’ womb attacks the nurse helping Charles with the abortion.

Congratulations— it’s a boy.”

screen-shot-2016-11-17-at-1-11-44-amBiggest trip of all for John Lowe (Wes Bentley) comes after waking up in bed, his little lost boy Holden next to him. When he chases the kid downstairs, John finds his wife in one of the glass coffins in the empty pool. This prompts a good fainting spell, like it would.
Then we move to Liz Taylor (Denis O’Hare) and Tristan Duffy (Finn Wittrock) rolling around in bed together, having sex. Wow – did not expect this at all. Pretty wild scene. Not only that, there’s some strange connection between these two already. They each reminisce about what it’s like to see one another, both of them with their own sweet sort of poetry about the other. Strange moments, though, only because they’re so quickly coming on! Otherwise I think these two make an excellent pairing.
Meanwhile, The Countess has got Will Drake (Cheyenne Jackson) on her own bed, giving him the business. But naturally, he is a gay man: “My cock and my mind operate separately,” Drake tells her. She decides there’s a need for an extra hand in all the fun, sending a text to Tristan. Then he has to go upstairs, to help out with Will’s dick. Well Tristan continually tries denying he is gay, even though he isn’t opposed to having sex with a pre-op transsexual (nothing wrong with it – no judgement on my part – but he IS at least bisexual). And still, The Countess easily persuades him into doing the deed, then she says: “Just fluff him up a little. Ill finish him off.”
Alex Lowe (Chloë Sevigny) drugged her husband up, put him back in the room and then set things to look as if he’d called her, probably drunk. Not as if she’s a vampire now, carrying that ancient virus, and sleeping in a glass coffin. She’s luring John into believing he is having a “psychotic break.” I feel so god damn bad for Dt. Lowe, and it only gets deeper when he heads down to the emptied pool – where, of course, not a single coffin is still lying on the floor. I’m constantly wondering how far this breakdown of John’s will go: is the Ten Commandments Killer, or is he just a good guy being done wrong by all the evil forces around him at Hotel Cortez?
Perhaps my favourite moment of the episode’s start is when Countess goes into a darkened room, picking up her supposed child, and tells him/her she’s going to Paris. Afterwards, they’ll have a massive amount of money it seems. But what is the child? Has it not grown since? It looks like a tiny infant still. Or is it another child? I doubt it. I imagine that’s still the child. So what, who, is it?


Finally, Donovan (Matt Bomer) and Ramona Royale (Angela Bassett) show up at the hotel in order to start enacting a bit of revenge. Ramona is clearly the most keen on doing in The Countess. She and Iris (Kathy Bates) are both surprised, for the worse, when they discover the kids in the coffins aren’t where they ought to be. A wrench is jammed into things for now. Although, between two feisty women like Ramona and Iris, I’m sure something will happen soon enough: Ramona wants the key to ROOM 33. Isn’t that where The Countess keeps her survived abortion baby?
At the same time, Donovan runs into the two Swedish girls who died at the hotel – they find out the tough way what’s really going on. I thought this whole sequence was awesome! Bomer is a great actor, in my opinion. He leads us into a scene with a girl named Carol who committed suicide at the Cortez – turns out, she came back and found a purpose in terrorizing guests. You never get to leave, sadly.

Eternity can be tedious without something enjoyable to break up the day

Ramona heads into Room 33, looking for little Bartholomew – The Countess’ feral abortion child. There’s a highly creepy scene here, with P.O.V shots from the baby, then a good one as it attacks Ramona. Everyone is in league, or almost everyone, against The Countess. Liz and Ramona are catching up, in a friendly way. Even Donovan, despite loving her and sniffing her panties, wants some revenge on the woman. Iris wants none of it, which is clear. So there is a lot going on against the lady of the house. Tristan is caught in the middle somewhere, I’m not sure if he’s going to fully fall in love with Liz, or if Countess will reel him back in. Either way, I feel a showdown at some point coming between Liz/Countess, as she may feel utterly betrayed by his loving Tristan. We’ll certainly see how things go from here.
The two dead Swedish girls find a purpose, or at the very least fun, in the hallways of the Cortez. They bang then kill a guy (well one of them bangs him), a bloody, nasty mess. After that, they unhappily talk with Alex Lowe about their purpose – she suggests crushing the minds of their prey, instead of so much gory murder. Apparently, Alex says she knows a guy who’s always wanted a threesome. Oh no…
John Lowe shows up at a new crime scene, asking his partner whether or not it’s a Ten Commandments Killer murder. But the cops don’t want or need him around, he’s obviously spinning into a downward descent. Back over at the Cortez, former Dt. Lowe lies around in the halls with a bottle of booze. He’s full of self pity, as well as self loathing. Then around the corner come the two Swedish walking corpses. They’re going to seduce John into bed, which they proceed to do. It’s a weird and bloody ride for Lowe, whose mind can’t handle whatever is happening. He takes off into the darkness,blood all over him, and heads to the front desk. Upstairs, Miss Evers (Mare Winningham) is cleaning up the bedroom, talking about the sheets and how full of blood they are, but ultimately it’s all about John losing his mind.


In the corner of the room, after everyone leaves, James March (Evan Peters) appears. Then quickly disappears. This almost drives John fully to the brink, banging his head off the wall. He knows he has to leave, so he begins to pack frantically. Will he make it through the doors and back out into the world alive?

This is my breakdown— Im gonna have it!”

Before Lowe leaves, little Bartholomew climbs into his suitcase without him noticing. SHIT! Where is this going to lead?
At home, John arrives with his daughter Scarlett (Shree Crooks). The girl is obviously pissed with her whole family after the strange events of the past couple episodes, even worse she was left at a friend’s house indefinitely, so that’s never a fun thing for kids. You can see John wants to repair his family, if that’s even going to be possible with a vampiric wife/son, and an emotionally damaged daughter now.
But again, we see the perspective of Bartholomew creeping around the Lowe house. John tries to track it down and finds it in the kitchen. We don’t get to see the child-thing. We watch in horror as John sees it, his eyes widened. Then he fires off shots, scaring the shit out of his daughter and making her afraid of him. There’s no sign of Bartholomew. Only a bloody trail. More adding to John’s deteriorating mental state, except we know the truth.
After the daughter is carted off to the grandparents and John is deemed even more insane, Alex finds little Bartholomew in the grass. Still, we don’t get to see him! I love how it’s being drawn out. The suspense kills me, in the best sort of way.
Liz finally confronts The Countess about Tristan. There’s an awkwardness at first, and then we come face to face with her jealousy. They all meet in one of the hotel rooms, she wants to have it all out in the open. The Countess doesn’t like the taste of betrayal, which she says tastes like charred spots on meat. A great scene comes here with Tristan laying everything out there, telling Countess about his “real love” for Liz, as opposed to her method, the sort that only brings sadness and despair and agony.
Nothing lasts forever, though. She lets Liz have Tristan, but immediately slits the boy’s throat right there. A fantastically gory gush comes rushing out, flying everywhere. Poor Liz, I thought this was going to be a good thing for her.
Then, in Room 33, Alex has brought the child back for The Countess. They bond over saved sons, each saving the other’s now, I guess. Does Alex really feel this way? Is she merely playing a game to lull in The Countess? What will truly happen
screen-shot-2016-11-17-at-1-20-06-amFINALLY! We see the face of Bartholomew. An eerie shot to say the least.
screen-shot-2016-11-17-at-1-20-38-amVery excited to see the next episode, “Flicker”, which is directed by Michael Goi – he’s a regular Director of Photography on American Horror Story. Stay tuned with me for another creep next week, fellow fans!

American Horror Story – Hotel, Episode 5: “Room Service”

FX’s American Horror Story
Season 5, Episode 5:
 “Room Service”
Directed by Michael Goi
Written by Ned Martel

* For a review of the previous episode, “Devil’s Night” – click here
* For a review of the next episode, “Room 33” – click here
screen-shot-2016-11-17-at-1-02-42-amGreetings, friends – another night at Hotel Cortez, is it?
“Room Service” starts out back with Alex Lowe (Chloë Sevigny), whose recent path has taken her into the arms of The Countess (Lady Gaga). Remember last episode at the finish, Alex had taken the drink, she now has the ancient virus. Here, she sort of wanders the hospital where she doctors in a fugue. Her senses, especially sound, are heightened. I love the P.O.V shots we often get on American Horror Story, but these are so great. Alex can hear a woman’s pulse pounding in her neck, almost as if it could pop right through the skin.
Then – nasty – Dr. Lowe heads in to where the blood is stored. Kind of perfect, isn’t it? She’s a vampire now and essentially has an almost unending supply of blood without all the murder.
Yet she further decides to inject a young sick boy’s IV with a syringe full of blood. An unsettling moment, watching the boy shake around, speckled with what looks like measles possibly. And his eyes come upon, springing alive before the credits. A spooky sequence to start off this episode. Gotta love it.screen-shot-2016-11-17-at-1-03-27-amDonovan (Matt Bomers), with his mother Iris (Kathy Bates) in tow, shows up at the door of Ramona Royale (Angela Bassett). It seems the son wants to use his mom in order to help Ramona with her vengeance against The Countess. He is one truly scorned lover. I love how there are all these vampiric characters crashing against one another. Iris isn’t happy, though, she’s terrified. Though, Donovan brings up a good point: “She never looks at you. Youre invisible.” Which is true, really. Iris is at the call of The Countess, but she is not a friend, barely an acquaintance. All boss. So this might be a damn good plan after all.
Does anything ever go the way it’s supposed to, though, in this series? No, no, no.
Then, in other ancient virus news, turns out the young boy Alex injected with the blood has made a speedy recovery. Well, is that a surprise? Certainly not.
Iris manages to get back to the Cortez where Liz Taylor (Denis O’Hare) chastises her a little. She can tell Iris is not feeling right, and mixes up “Lizs special sumin sumin.” Liz reveals the cocktail is blood with a splash of Triple Sec.
Poor Iris. Even though she was one of the people doing bad shit around the hotel (think: Swedish tourists), there’s been a consistently tragic aspect about her I find redeemable. The whole purpose of going to the Cortez in the first place, for Iris, was trying to save her son, and then she got roped into staying. And now – it’s for-e-ver.
Such a great meeting of the acting minds here with a solid scene of dialogue between Kathy Bates and Denis O’Hare. They’re two wonderful actors who I’ve enjoyed before American Horror Story. Yet Ryan Murphy/Brad Falchuk & Co. are able to bring out their best qualities here, giving them each very intriguing roles season after season.screen-shot-2016-11-17-at-1-03-54-amOh, the bad little boy, Max, whom Alex saved has fed on his parents. Then off to school he goes. Awesome little scene right after we see his parents bled out on the floor, as Max digs his hands into eyeballs and guts at a table setup in his classroom; fake, of course. Still, there’s a creepy aspect to this moment. EVEN MORE INTENSELY UNNERVING – Max goes in a dark room with a young girl named Madeline, where he introduces her to a bit of the measles (or whatever the hell he had), as well as that tricky ancient virus. This begins on an insane outbreak of measles throughout the class. Plus, Max kills a couple teachers.
Some of the best gore we’ve seen yet in this episode! CREEPY CHILDREN – CREEPY CHILDREN EVERYWHERE. The part where they all attack and feed on the male teacher, blood spurting everywhere, his clothes soaked through… so damn good. Then, like there would be, absolute panic breaks out.
If anybody tells you there’s no wild horror in this series, promptly tell them to fuck off somewhere. Because this was one hell of a horrific sequence. It wasn’t all gore, either. Certain people want to try and act like the show simply goes for savagery over any substance. Wrong – the entire angle of what happens with the children, all those varied moments from the classroom to the chilling scene which follows as all the kids are brought out to their unsuspecting parents, they’re an amazing bunch of scenes. Truly full of gorgeous madness.
Detective John Lowe (Wes Bentley) is seeing the fallout from his little serial killer dinner party last episode. A Lieutenant (Robert Knepper; awesome) questions him on what exactly happened. Certainly the man is a bit disturbed by Lowe’s statements, involving John Wayne Gacy, Jeffrey Dahmer (et cetera). Lowe is a truly sympathetic character. Unless it turns out, as some believe online, John is the Ten Commandments Killer. Though, I think there are some time issues there that won’t play out correctly for that to be real. We’ll see! For now, I feel bad for John because he is being put through the ringer in so many different ways. He’s bound to snap, or fall into a vicious spiral which could lead to death.
A couple idiots show up to test Iris and her patience. Meanwhile, Tristan (Finn Wittrock) and The Countess are dressed up, to the nines, and heading out for Halloween; love Tristan’s Gary Oldman costume. Iris is clearly thrown off and nervous, while Tristan almost sniffs her out right there and then. Both of them, in fact.
What’s even better is the conversation Iris has afterwards with the douchebags who recently checked in. They want grilled salads and other things the hotel doesn’t offer. So, she enlists the help of Liz who really seems to know people well enough – these dummies are going to live to regret their stay, I would imagine.

Bitches want pâté, pâté they shall have.”


Amazing bit of Liz Taylor here, as she gives us a look at the past, his old home life. Nick, her original name, was a medical representative. On trips out of town, he lived the life he WANTED while alone in the room. I can’t get enough of O’Hare. He is a constant treat, and it’s gold watching him do drag, the character finding himself.
Then once Countess shows up, things get even more interesting. She tells him “you smell like a woman“, but it’s not the perfume – “Its your skin, your blood,” she says. Such a dark yet also beautiful scene. We watch Nick become Liz Taylor in front of our eyes.
What’s most interesting to me here, above everything else, is how the Countess comes across as a helpful woman, someone who cares and loves and wants to be there for other people. Even when Liz is confronted in the hallway by the two men her former male self came to the hotel with, Countess kills them to save any trouble. Either way, Liz never went back to her life as Nick ever again. Neither did The Countess infect her. She and Iris bond over their respective strengths. He advises her to “teach that hipster couple some manners.” Oooh, I love this – delightful mischief! I won’t spoil this bit any longer. Wait and see the brutality for yourself.

Become who you were born to be: a goddess.”

Now former detective John Lowe wakes up in his bed, scratches across the chest, next to Hypodermic Sally (Sarah Paulson). He appears to not remember, until a moment later when the foggy memories of the previous night come back. Obviously Lowe went on a nasty bender, which led him up to the room where he surely had unprotected sex with a half-woman/half-ghost. All the while dildo drillbit man shows up in the mirror behind John to spook him out. Wouldn’t that be awful? Hard enough to get one off when you’re drunk, let alone seeing that eerie bastard around your room.


There are more rough nights ahead for John. I dread seeing the sad, tragic events which are bound to follow for him. But I’ll eat those words if certain internet theories come true later in this season.
Even sadder, Alex and Holden have a little moment together where the boy tells her “now youre like me.” It’s very touching, in the wrong sort of way. Not fuzzy. It is a dark conversation, especially with The Countess alongside. Slowly I think Alex is starting to comprehend the idea of eternity. All the same, I don’t think she’s fully grasping how long and drawn out that can be, and on top of that her son will grow old. He’ll be frozen as a child forever and she won’t ever watch him become a young adult, then a man.


An amazing episode. One of the best this season so far, I can easily say that. Excited to seem “Room 33”, as well as what “the thing” in there is – remember back in one of the first episodes, Iris made fleeting reference to something being kept in there? We’re going to find out next week.
Stay tuned with me, my fellow horror fanatics!

American Horror Story – Hotel, Episode 3: “Mommy”

FX’s American Horror Story
Season 5, Episode 3:
 “Mommy”
Directed by Bradley Buecker
Written by James Wong

* For a review of the previous episode, “Chutes and Ladders” – click here
* For a review of the next episode, “Devil’s Night” – click here
screen-shot-2016-11-17-at-12-25-28-amBack for another night checking in at the Hotel Cortez.
Tristan Duffy (Finn Wittrock), former badboy model cum vampire, heads back to try and find Mr. James March (Evan Peters). He said he didn’t understand March, but now he does and is a self proclaimed “fan.” Tristan has obviously studied up on ole James, even going so far as to list off his birth date. Though, he chalks it up to Google (“That sounds obscene,” says March).
There’s comedy, dark, here in spades. At the same time most of it is creepy throughout this scene. Loved the Black Closet. Impressively morbid fun.screen-shot-2016-11-17-at-12-25-49-amWill Drake (Cheyenne Jackson) is bringing his high profile Vogue friend Claudia Bankson (Naomi Campbell) around the hotel for a tour. Naturally, they run into Tristan. Is this going to spell trouble for them, made even worse by the fact Tristan is falling into line as being an apprentice to James March? Absolutely, at least for Drake. March proclaims he can’t be allowed to “touch a single room“, so to preserve the legacy Tristan offers to take care of him saying “Dont worry, I got this.” Such a nonchalant attitude towards murder. A dark soul, that one.
Dr. Alex Lowe (Chloë Sevigny) continues to deal with the anti-vaxxer parents. One child has come down with the measles, all due to the pseudoscientific approach to parenting and medicine so many seem to be adopting in the 21st century, more and more. This is, again, a reason why I love American Horror Story in general. Ryan Murphy/Brad Falchuk & Co. always manage to work in present day issues of relevance with each season. It’s part of why I keep coming back, aside from the horror and the psychosexual thriller aspects.
Furthermore concerning Dr. Lowe, she recounts the tragedy of her son, from the way he affected her life coming into it to how devastating it was to see him go out of it. This is an incredible sequence, very intense and dramatic. I love Chloë Sevigny, even if she says some wild shit as a famous personality (I won’t go into that here; she’s said a few dumb things during her time in the spotlight). She is a great actress who is not at all afraid to take risks. Coupled with her, literally in terms of character, is Wes Bentley as Detective John Lowe. He is great, too. Always been a fan of him since American Beauty, and he keeps doing great work in each of these episodes. He and Sevigny have excellent chemistry, working well as a troubled married couple.
Oh, Claudia Bankson. I feel bad for her. She’s obviously a high class type woman. Now here she is staying at the Cortez, a hotel which may as well be a tourist stop on the Dante vacation guide. When she lays down to go to bed, poor Gabriel (Max Greenfield) emerges screaming from the mattress after having been sewn in last episode by Sally (Sarah Paulson). Even worse? He stabs Claudia to death in a mad rage. Wow. I expected her to go, just didn’t see her getting slashed so quickly into the episode. Fair enough, though. A vicious and welcomed surprise.
In another part of the city, Dt. Lowe and his partner Dt. Hahn (Richard T. Jones) investigate more work by the serial killer they’re hunting. Once Lowe arrives back at the Cortez, though, out comes Gabriel painted in blood, panting, falling into the unsuspecting detective’s arms. Another whoa moment and I dig it. Later at the hospital things get crazy – Lowe’s given little morsels of information before Gabriel dies on a gurney suggesting Sally did something to him, as well as the fact there was a murder.


But I’m genuinely worried for Will Drake. The newly vampirised Duffy is lurking around, tempting weak-willed Will with a bit of skin and seduction. Out of nowhere, The Countess (Lady Gaga) emerges to cut off Tristan’s fun.
Another interesting dynamic so far in Season 5 is the one between Hypodermic Sally and Detective John Lowe. There are several things at play in their tenuous relationship at the Cortez. First, we have Lowe as cop versus Sally the criminal. Secondly there’s Lowe as a man who is trying hard to abstain from alcohol, while Sally is – clearly – an relentless junkie. And finally we don’t know how deep Sally’s influence goes, how embedded in the hotel she truly is in terms of what her ultimate power holds.
The other team I’m loving is Iris (Kathy Bates) and Donovan (Matt Bomer), the troubled mother-son relationship. Iris is stuck at the hotel by necessity, not in terms of the supernatural like it seems Sally is trapped. She wants to be close to Donovan. On the other side of things, Donovan himself would rather be far away from her. Within all the supernatural/ghostly this is some of the solid real life drama happening among a cast of pretty kooky (though awesome) characters.

Fine, you make a list of all the ways I failed you. And you know what I say to your list? Shit on it. ‘Cause my list beats yours. Item 1: I gave you life. Item 2: I saved your life.”
I wanted to die!

More good music in this episode with “Rich Kids Blues” from Lykke Li playing over a scene where Donovan feeds on whoever he can along the streets, wandering where he pleases. Except he stumbles across someone he never expected, a woman named Ramona Royale (Angela Bassett) who immediately tasers him before he can do anything with the knife he wields.
Liz Taylor (Denis O’Hare) is always a treat to see. We’re going to find out more about her soon, I guarantee. She serves up some soda pop for Dt. Lowe, whose troubles are beginning to get worse. Meeting with Alex, she brings him divorce papers, which seem a huge surprise to him; he is devastated, actually. This is more of the solid acting from Bentley especially. He does a fantastic job with the emotional aspects of his characters, I’ve found that even in the worst of the films he’s been in over the course of his career; here, with Dt. Lowe, we’re able to see a lot of his range come out because of the insane situation he’s found himself in at the Cortez. Their situation gets murkier with each step throughout “Mommy.”
Alex wanders down one of the hallways to find a bloody Claudia Bankson standing there, mocking. Creepy enough for you? She then sees Holden down another corridor. Just what she needs after all the horrible tension and resentment happening between her and husband John.
screen-shot-2016-11-17-at-12-33-53-amUp in the penthouse, The Countess meets with Drake – “What if I told you Will Drake had to die?” she asks him. Figuratively? Literally? Either way some saucy stuff is happening in a dangerous triangle between Tristan, The Countess and Drake.
Apparently The Countess has moved on, once more. Obviously to Drake now because of his money. It’s amazing how they work Bernie Madoff into the script as the reason The Countess has depleted funds in the old life savings account. Turns out Bernie did her in, similar to Kevin Bacon and Kyra Sedgwick and many other less famous victims. So that’s a fun little modern addition. Turns out she’s now planning on marrying Will – which has begun with her trying to switch him from the gay team (seriously?) – before killing him. No wonder she stopped Tristan earlier. She needs that cash before they can feast on his delicious blood.
Possibly the most strange and shocking moment in “Mommy” comes when Sally is readying herself to shoot Iris up with heroin. Apparently Iris has decided there are no reasons left to live. Following the huge altercation earlier with her son, Iris obviously doesn’t see any point in going on (Iris: “I just dont get the joke anymore I am the joke?”). Will Sally help Iris, or is she going to do something terrible with her like she did with Gabriel, and who knows how many countless others before him?
Once the weary Donovan wakes up, he finds Ramona Royale in his face. He’s strapped to a chair by the neck. She is pumping his blood, trying to clean him out for some purpose. Then we have an amazingly executed sequence where Angela Bassett playsa very Pam Grier type character; I could not get enough of this, at all! She’s on a set very similar to something like Coffy and playing a definite homage, at certain points, to Grier. I have no doubt about that.


CAN YOU SAY HOLY FUCK? A lesbian love scene between Bassett and Gaga? I mean, that’s just unreal. But the whole sequence here is what’s worth it – they’re together, as lovers and partners, throughout decades, falling apart eventually because of The Countess’ never ending need for variety. Then it moves into Ramona and her new lover, which becomes something DEVASTATING. I won’t spoil this any further. Totally need to see it yourself.
What I’m very intrigued about now is how the relationship between Donovan and Ramona will work going forward. There’ll definitely be a lot of fun happening from here on in. Even though it seems things end between them here, I can almost certainly say we’ll find them together again soon enough.
The episode’s finish is a real gut punch, as Donovan finally comes to find love for his mother once she has died in Sally’s room. He cuts his wrist and pours blood into her mouth. Now she won’t be able to die, well at least not easily anyways according to the rules set out last episode by The Countess. An interesting last minute development in “Mommy”, which made it more enjoyable than I found most of the episode. A good one, just not as good as either of the first two.
screen-shot-2016-11-17-at-12-36-00-amCan’t wait for the next episode titled “Devil’s Night” directed by the man himself Ryan Murphy. Stay tuned and I’ll be back for another review next week, my fellow horror fans!

American Horror Story – Hotel, Episode 2: “Chutes and Ladders”

FX’s American Horror Story
Season 5, Episode 2:
 “Chutes and Ladders”
Directed by Bradley Buecker
Written by Tim Minear

* For a review of the previous episode, “Checking In” – click here
* For a review of the next episode, “Mommy” – click here
screen-shot-2016-11-17-at-12-13-03-amAfter the first and at times devastating premiere episode in Hotel, “Chutes and Ladders” (definitely a reference to the original owner of the hotel based off H.H. Holmes) begins with Hypodermic Sally (Sarah Paulson) shambling around her room. She appears to be sowing Gabriel (Max Greenfield), still alive, into a mattress. Ah, the same fate as that terrifying man from “Checking In.” It’s a disturbing moment, watching Sally push Gabriel’s face down inside the mattress.
Then we zip through the vents, down to where one of the Swedish tourists, caged in the neon contraption, is being fed on by the little blonde haired children. They’re sucking at her wrists. One of them turns away: “Yuk. Tastes gross.” Only because, as Iris (Kathy Bates) makes clear – they’re dead.screen-shot-2016-11-17-at-12-13-20-amLiz Taylor (Denis O’Hare) brings the new fresh body into a room with Iris and ghostly maid Miss Evers (Mare Winningham) dump the body down a chute. It sails downward through the hotel, into a big basement, landing dusty on a pile of other bodies.
What’s creepiest is the white room again, where the children eat treats and play games and watch things on the massive screens – Iris filters off a bit of blood into a nice crystal decanter. Bringing it upstairs, The Countess (Lady Gaga) and Donovan (Matt Bomer), the latter trying his best to avoid his mother, have a tall glass of the red stuff. A little while afterwards, The Countess heads out to a function, not for the art but “for the hunt”. I love the way Gaga plays the character, I’m not even a fan of hers regularly yet I feel Ryan Murphy & Brad Falchuk did a great thing casting her in this role; just how she sort of moves through every scene, elegant and scary at once.
Dr. Alex Lowe (Chloë Sevigny) is out giving house calls. It’s excellent how the writing incorporates our modern day issues in this season. For instance, Lowe has to deal with anti-vaccination parents. I find this a great touch, and as always there are issues brought out in American Horror Story which are absolutely prevalent in society today.
Over at the Cortez, Detective John Lowe (Wes Bentley) wakes up in Room 64. Everything is pretty eerie. As if out of nowhere, Miss Evers comes in asking if he needs anything. Then suddenly, a quick glimpse of the wretched, disfigured creature (that raped Gabriel in “Checking In”) standing just above Lowe’s face, steel drillbit dildo protruding out. In the shower, Lowe witnesses to dead people having sex. But then he wakes up again in bed, radio on once more.
I feel bad for John Lowe. He’s obviously scarred by the disappearance and loss of his boy Holden (Lennon Henry). The worst part of that being Holden, we know, is in the hotel. Lowe continuously sees the little boy running around the halls yet can never seem to catch up with him.


He ends up having a brief run-in with Sally and a bar-tending Liz Taylor, trying his best not to fall off the wagon. Basically in this scene, Sally makes him talk about his worst days, the hardest times of his life, and it stirs him up. Though, for now Lowe leaves. For now…
Dt. Lowe receives a package from the Cortez where he’s staying back at the station – inside is what looks like an Academy Award stained with bits of blood. Hmm.
Over at the grand Cortez Hotel, Will Drake (Cheyenne Jackson) has a big party happening, lots of guests such as Vogue’s Claudia Bankson (Naomi Campbell). Things seem to be bumping in the lobby with a ton of people lounging, chatting, and so on. When Sally turns up, not allowed into the party, she mysteriously eyes Lowe’s young daughter Scarlett (Shree Crooks) – perhaps another little blonde child for the Countess? I hope not, I already feel viciously bad for Dt. Lowe. He’s seen some hard times.
At the huge fashion show Drake is putting off, we’re introduced to model Tristan Duffy (Finn Wittrock), whose presence there is somewhat of a major draw. Of course, Duffy is a fiendish cokehead and all around playboy, walking the runway as if every single person there wants to bed him. Amazing change for Wittrock in this season, compared to his also amazing portrayal of Dandy Mott in last year’s Freak Show. Even in that first scene, from the back room to the catwalk, he is fantastic. After his disastrous walk, Drake confronts him backstage; Duffy only cuts his face with a straight razor and announces his retirement from modelling. Savage!

Hes full of rage, I can still smell it— like copper.”

Little Scarlett is taken to see something interesting by Lachlan Drake (Lyric Lennon), Will’s son. They end up in a strange room, like a pool but emptied out. He takes her down to see these strange glass coffins, where the little blonde children are sleeping. There, she sees her brother Holden who opens his eyes intensely. Spooky moment! This goes on to lead her on a bit of a journey alone.
Up in the penthouse, Duffy is scavenging for cocaine (a nice little reference to Lars Von Trier; a favourite director of mine). He’s interrupted by Donovan, they have a bit of a row. But the Countess shows up as well to stop anything further from happening, letting Duffy wander off. She’s playing a bit of catch and release, I believe, no? When former model Duffy finds himself a bit lost in the darkness of the Cortez’s shadowy corridors, things go from a little unsettling to a whole other level of madness. First, it’s a sandwich from room service he tries to eat in the hallway – it looks good to him, but after it’s in his mouth the sandwich appears rotten, full of maggots wriggling in and out of the bread.
But secondly, when Duffy goes into a room to try and look for more cocaine, or anything else, he runs into Mr. James March (Evan Peters) whose Old Hollywood charm is more than evident. It’s only after a few minutes, the situation becomes murderous. Miss Evers brings in a tied up prostitute and March orders Duffy to kill her, but he refuses. Revealing a nasty neck wound, March then kills her himself. This sends Duffy back into the darkness of the halls until he’s snatched up by the Countess herself.screen-shot-2016-11-17-at-12-19-04-amScarlett Lowe manages to get back to the Cortez on her own. When she locates the room where Lachlan brought her during the fashion show, the coffins are open, empty. Where are the children? Are they in the sterile white room? Well, Holden is anyways. Scarlett enters and meets him, again after all this time. She shows him a picture of their family all together. She further wonders why Holden hasn’t grown up thought she has herself. Instead of being happy, though, Holden is very happy at the hotel telling her “I am home.” The kicker comes when she tries to take a picture of her and Holden, he leans in almost to bite her neck; you just know the picture will not be coming out correctly.
One of the nastier scenes comes when Scarlett runs into the hall – Sally scares her with a huge smile, a laugh, and then grinds her own teeth and gums into a bloody mess. What a freaky shot! Great, great makeup effects, as usual.

Can a bullet take me out? A silver bullet, or a stake?”
Bitch please— of course it can

The Countess has turned Tristan Duffy into a vampire like her and Donovan. They have an intense bit of sex afterwards, Tristan loving the new life of vampirism. Will this cause some tension now between these two and Donovan, between the Countess and Donovan more so? You bet your ass it will. Almost more animosity comes from Donovan towards Duffy, though. They’re the boy toys of the Countess and neither are hugely happy about them both being in contention for her attention.
We’re also privy to the rules of American Horror Story‘s vampires, such as the sun doesn’t kill but should be avoided, coffins aren’t needed as long as you’ve got nice black-out curtains, you can die though being immortal can be achieved through being smart and intelligent about how one handles the effects and responsibilities of being a vampire. This whole sequence is fucking awesome! Not only are Gaga and Wittrock incredible together chemistry-wise, we further get to hear more about the Countess, her birthdate, all the wild stuff she did back in the day, what she lived through, and more. Real good writing here that I found super intriguing!
Dt. Lowe tries to leak information out of Iris – after Scarlett returns safely, obviously her parents are livid. She gives him the lowdown on Evan Peters’ new character, James March; the original builder/owner of the hotel.
For those who don’t know, this character is hugely based on H.H. Holmes, right down to his appearance – he built a massive murder hotel, essentially, including chutes for dropping bodies, secret passages, and so much more. Here, we get a look at 1925 when James March built the hotel. Excellent, eerie scenes shot in black-and-white showing us a brief glimpse of March and his strange ideas about how the architecture of the hotel ought to be constructed. When a construction foreman asks questions about the strange design, March brings him up to this office, stabs him in the neck, then slides his body down a chute where the body heads to the basement. There was asbestos lining the walls, thick to dull out any sound, hallways which lead nowhere, plus tons of other creepily constructed torturous elements. A vicious and interesting sequence from its beginning to end. There are some savage moments, some funny ones, and lots of intensity.
Most fun of all? Room 64 is the office of James March, exactly where Lowe is staying.

Just cause Im sucking on a dude doesnt mean Im gay.”

screen-shot-2016-11-17-at-12-21-11-amI won’t spoil all the fun. Great episode, especially the Countess and Tristan together near the finale. Could not get enough!
Look forward to the third episode, “Mommy”, directed by Bradley Buecker once more. Stay tuned for more madness, my friends!

American Horror Story – Hotel, Episode 1: “Checking In”

FX’s American Horror Story
Season 5, Episode 1
: “Checking In”
Directed by Ryan Murphy
Written by Brad Falchuk & Ryan Murphy

* For a review of the Season 4 Freak Show finale, “Curtain Call” – click here
* For a review of the next episode, “Chutes and Ladders” – click here
screen-shot-2016-11-16-at-10-39-26-pmOpening this new season, there are plenty of interesting things happening over at Falchuk, Murphy & Co.
We fade in on the Hotel Cortez, looming over the street below like an ancient building. A couple blonde foreign tourists, maybe Swedish, enter the doors of the luxurious and massive hotel; one of them even says, “Its so quiet. Its like a tomb.”
They meet Iris (Kathy Bates) who is taking care of the front desk, checking people in and showing them to their rooms. All the while a slick, laid back piece of music plays underneath the scenes – Iris shows the girls to their room, passing through long, empty halls.
Already from the start we’ve got a ton of creepiness: first one of the maids is trying to steam out a big bloody stain in a sheet down one hallway, then a creepy lone child pointing eerily appears down another. There’s also a dreamy moment where we see a gold, glittery glove with pointy nails reaching out for one of the tourists, as she is back on; we see only the glove, no doubt belonging to Lady Gaga’s character who we’ve yet to meet, and no real noise only unsettling music lowly building, then cut to the tourist turning around, nobody there. Spooky!
I feel really bad for these tourist women. They discover a foul smell in their new room. Eventually tracking it to the bed, they rip off the sheet to discover a large stitching made through its middle. Cutting it open, a good idea or not? Probably… not. A hand bursts from out the mattress and a terrifying man with nasty, yellowed teeth on blackened gums, sores on his body, bursts up screaming.
This part actually reminded me a lot of Se7en. Not positive if Murphy and Falchuk intended this as a sort of sly homage to the scene where Morgan Freeman and Brad Pitt find a near dead man strapped to his mattress still alive, even though he looked positively foul. But either way, it was awesomely frightening and definitely takes me back to Fincher’s movie.screen-shot-2016-11-16-at-10-41-53-pmIris is quick to put the girls in another room, assuring they’ll not be paying for the previous one. When confronted about having said there were no other rooms available, Iris simply tells the girls “This one we dont rent out” and already this season is a creepshow. Presumably the cops are on their way, though, it’s unsure whether these women will survive until then or not.
Of course quickly we find two little children, vampires probably, feeding off one of the tourists, as the other one walks in to witness it all happening.
Detectives John Lowe (Wes Bentley) and Detective Hahn (Richard T. Jones) show up to a crime scene – a man and a woman are posed having intercourse, nailed in place, as well as the man having his tongue and eyeballs torn out. Turns out it was an affair. But as Lowe says: “This isnt jealousy. This is something else.” This whole scene is downright brutal, in the right horror sort of way. Poor dude is stuck inside the dead woman; his wails just before we cut to Lowe back at the station are bloodcurdling.
Lowe clearly has a good relationship with his daughter, although the one with his wife seems strained; when his daughter, via FaceTime, asks her mother if she wants to talk to daddy, to which mom responds simply “no“. I like Lowe from the start, not just because I love Wes Bentley, I think it’s a solid character judging from his opening scenes.
Then he receives a call – from the one who nailed those people to the bed, saying he’ll be doing it again. Uh oh.
Introducing, now, for your pleasure – Max Greenfield as Gabriel.
He meets Iris at the front desk looking for a room. She gives him #64; same room where the girls were put. Appears as if Iris is in on whatever is happening around the place. No matter, Gabriel looks to be a strung out, self-centric junkie who cares about nothing other than his fun.
Furthermore, we get to meet Hypodermic Sally (Sarah Paulson) who tells Iris she’s got “dibs on this one.” Then, briefly and without any words, we also get a look at Denis O’Hare’s Liz Taylor; cannot WAIT to see what he’s bringing to the table this season, what an impressive character actor.
When Gabriel makes it back to his room, yes, yes, he shoots up a bit of junk. Then the visions begin – the maid from earlier who’d been steaming out blood, but even worse is an ugly, deformed demon-like creature who comes out of the darkness, bends Gabriel over, and brandishes a STEEL DRILLBIT DILDO! Yowzahs.


Detective Lowe arrives back at the front desk of the Cortez. He wants to have a look in Room 64, where Gabriel is being raped by the hideous creature. Liz Taylor is called out, dressed in fine fashion, to take the detective up to the room.
There is an awfully vicious rape going on with Gabriel and the creature, while Hypo Sally shows up telling him “the more you scream, the more he likes it.” She wants Gabriel to tell her he loves her, that if he does it everything will stop, the pain will go away. There’s something even more disturbing about her part in it all than the actual rape itself, which is horrific – I’m so intrigued already in this first episode by Sally in particular, the creature, that it’s unbelievable.
Great, great and archetypal AHS camerawork happening in “Checking In”. Lots of those odd, high and low angles, big wide views from up above, et cetera. One of my favourites is the low tracking shot behind Liz Taylor and Detective Lowe as they walk the halls to Room 64: elegant, sort of ominous, but also beautiful as O’Hare floats his arms around in the air and his long outfit flows on the gentle breeze. Incredible stuff. Something I always look forward to in each season is seeing how the show adapts to the new locations in terms of the way the AHS aesthetic (both visual and musical) is used. This beginning episode promises both wild and interesting things happening in regards to both plot and style.
Meanwhile, Lowe is seeing one of the creepy children in Room 64. He gives chase out into the halls and it looks like he might be slowly losing his mind. What is Lowe’s story? Perhaps he’s not all I thought he was originally, or maybe the Hotel Cortez is really busting his brain up quick.
We’re finally treated to a good look at Countess Elizabeth (Lady Gaga) and her companion of sorts Donovan (Matt Bomer). The introduction to these characters is magic – “Tear You Apart” by She Wants Revenge plays in the background, as the Countess and Donovan go to an outdoor showing of F.W. Murnau’s Nosferatu. There’s lots of the psychosexual mania happening in this sequence with the Countess and Donovan taking a couple from the movie back to the hotel, up to their bloody little love nest.
I won’t spoil EVERYTHING that happens because it’s twisted, sexy, nasty, and brings the savage horror to Season 5 Hotel right from the top. I’ll hope there’s plenty, plenty more of this to come. The aftermath of this scene, as Donovan and the Countess lay on the bed afterwards, it’s chilling and so nastily gorgeous!screen-shot-2016-11-16-at-11-04-22-pmThe two tourists from our opener are now caged into some strange steel traps lit with neon lights. They’re terrified, of course. Iris has a good tray full of a bunch of different meats, oysters, alcohol, et cetera. She’s decided to help flush their systems out, having gone through their luggage and discovering they are fairly drugged up party girls. But this force-feeding by tube is a bit intense, I would say. Iris loves this sort of stuff, obviously.
When Hypo Sally walks in, there seems to be a good deal of tension and annoyance between her and Iris. For whatever reason, Iris blames Sally for “all my suffering” claiming she’s done with all the bullshit.
Then we figure out: they’re being primed for eating, for their blood, so that she can eat them. She? You know it’s the Countess.
One of the tourists is let free by Sally, told to run. Is this just a trap, or is it real? Not that it matters: the Countess appears while Iris is trying to catch her. Elizabeth whips out one of her sharpened nails and slits the young girl’s throat. A nice, nasty bloodletting.
So the reason Dt. Lowe was running after the boy in the Cortez is because his son died at some point; his daughter tells him, while they go out for father-daughter sushi, she “cant remember his face anymore.” Or at least that’s what I gather. What I love about this series overall is the exposition doesn’t always come flat out and in your face with one single scene. Better for it, don’t want to give too much up right away.
Lowe gets a text from his wife: an address and the words HELP ME. The detective makes his way to the address, where the police outside watch his daughter Scarlett. Inside, Lowe receives a call from the mysterious voice who phoned earlier, this time telling him: “I told you Id do it again.”
When the cop wanders away from Scarlett, she heads inside curiously and winds up finding two disembowelled victims hanging in one of the rooms, guts about to hit the floor.
After this, with a flashback, we watch Lowe and his family – plus his little blonde son Holden – at a carnival back in 2010. Texting on his phone, Lowe turns around while his son rides the carousel. Turning back: the boy is gone. Any parent’s nightmare.
Back in the present day, Lowe’s wife is terrified about the calls he is getting, she wants to move, she wants a gun, anything to feel safe. He is planning to move out in order to not have his family in the line of fire. Emotional scene between Lowe and his wife Alex (Chloë Sevigny); two great actors head to head, lots of good chemistry to come, I feel.


Will Drake (Cheyenne Jackson) comes to the Hotel Cortez. As does Marcy (Christine Estabrook) from Season 1; she even talks about putting her dog down, who came to her through unfortunate circumstances – remember? Either way, it seems as if Drake is there as a potential buyer, or rather he’s pretty much already bought the place. Iris is a bit concerned, as is Liz Taylor, when they hear the news. Is the Countess Elizabeth hiding things from them?
When Marcy takes Drake around, she finds Donovan in the nude, in his suite. He’s pretty pissed off. OH THE JOY – then Bauhaus kicks in with “Bela Lugosi’s Dead”. FUCK YES, RYAN MURPHY! THANK YOU! One of my favourite songs of all time. Even if it’s not the whole song, I love hearing any of it here.
The meeting between Drake and the Countess is amazingly strange, eerie, there’s a spooky quality hovering over everything. A real foreboding sense of haunting. Especially when Drake’s son spends a few minutes with Elizabeth, she brings him to see little Holden – shit! The whole room where she takes him is undeniably unnerving, the kids in the stark white, blonde, their pale faces staring off, it’s all madness. Wonderful madness.

Messes are always forgiven. The first time.

So what’s the connection between Iris and Donovan?
Little flashback to 1994. Iris watches Hypo Sally and a much different looking Donovan – sweatier, more strung out – enter the Hotel Cortez where Liz Taylor watches the front desk. Sally takes Donovan upstairs and Iris barges in – she’s looking for her son. Man, I did not expect that! Either way it’s super interesting. Back in ’94, Irish was trying hard to save her son from the dope, and there he is upstairs shooting himself full of the stuff with Sally. Now we’re seeing Iris’ problem with Sally, their sort of feud, and obviously her strong connection to Donovan, as mother and son.
SHOCKER!!! Iris pushes Sally out a window, way up in the Cortez. Incredible shot with Sally flying through the air, down to the pavement, a nice hard crack and splat in the street. Man, oh, man. And when Iris goes back to the room for Donovan, there sits the Countess: “Your boy has a jawline for days.”


The close of the episode shows us bits and pieces of Lowe packing up, getting ready to leave so the killer phoning him hopefully won’t touch them. Is anybody else thinking Lowe’s wife is having an affair and that she may be one of his targets? The killer supposedly makes it clear how the families have no idea about the betrayal, so it feels to me like Mrs. Lowe might come under fire regardless. But who knows, I can’t judge that yet.
As the episode finishes, Dt. Lowe finds himself “Checking In” at the Cortez. What lies in store for him there? Plenty of horror. Not to mention the fact he’s heading to Room 64.
screen-shot-2016-11-16-at-11-25-05-pmSecond episode, directed by Bradley Buecker, is titled “Chutes and Ladders.” This season opener packed a wallop, I’m so excited for the follow up. All sorts of decadence, depravity, blood, horror, and murder to come! Stay tuned, fellow fans. We’ll get spooked together.