From Wes Bentley

American Horror Story – My Roanoke Nightmare: “Chapter 5”

FX’s American Horror Story
Season 6, Episode 5: “Chapter 5”
Directed by Nelson Cragg
Written by Akela Cooper

* For a review of Chapter 4, click here.
* For a review of Chapter 6, click here.
screen-shot-2016-10-13-at-1-36-10-amWhere does the nightmare go from here?
Edward Philippe Mott – undoubtedly related to Dandy Mott from Season 4 – is the one who built the Big Shaker House, the house where Shelby and Matt Miller (Lily Rabe & André Holland) experienced their personal nightmare. We get flashes of this Mott, as a historian tells us about the old property.
And who is it that plays Edward Mott? In a dramatic re-enactment (remember this well; this re-enactment business has a purpose), Evan Peters plays the man himself.
The historian tells us Mott had severe social anxiety. So he went out into the woods to build himself a home, away from the hustle and bustle of the city. Even during the building process, things got strange. Like they would. Most interesting is that Mott had the house mostly to be with his homosexual lover, away from his family. He’s got lots of other things going on, though. Mott is gay; no big deal. It’s his madness I care about. Before the house starts fucking with him he’s already a bit insane.
Then the haunting begins. Poor Edward, he finds his paintings destroyed. The very things he’d only recently rambled about while in the tub with his lover. He interrogates his staff, not getting any of the answers he wanted. He locks them away like animals. That house is bringing out the worst qualities in him. “Do not judge me,” he tells his lover – a black man – who he also points out is only a servant. Harsh, dude. Fucking low.
Finally, in the night Edward hears sqeuals, noticing a fire outside. It’s Thomasin White (Kathy Bates) and her rowdy band of settlers. They do him in, stabbing a pike through his chest before setting him ablaze. Of course the poor servant gets the blame. They even find the other servants down in the cellar, only starved skeletons left. A truly, unbearably nasty history. Real estate nightmare.

 


With Thomasin right outside the house where we last left the Millers, Shelby and Matt (Sarah Paulson & Cuba Gooding Jr.) wait at their window, calling 9-11. Ambrose White (Wes Bentley) calls out to them about a “merciless reckoning.” The couple try to enact a plan to escape, although splitting up is never good; at least not for the victims of horror. And when Flora (Saniyya Sidney) gets snatched up by a terrifying, ghostly figure that scampers away on all fours, nothing is looking good for anybody. Then the fucking Pig Man shows up, the dead hunters. All the ghosts and ghouls come out to play, commanded by Thomasin and her power. From nowhere comes Mott, leading the Millers into a tunnel downstairs; is he on their side, or that of The Butcher? “I will keep her from killing you, no more, no less,” explains Edward. He wants solitude. Too many souls kicking around in the house. Y’know, practical ghost shit.
Side note: check out the effects on Peters’ eyes as he moves the torch around, very cool.
Out in the woods after Mott leaves them, the Millers and Flora try to find a way elsewhere, but surprise, surprise – they’re stopped, bags over their head and knocked out.screen-shot-2016-10-13-at-1-54-23-amWaking up, they’re at the farm where the feral boys were found. Elias Cunningham (Denis O’Hare) is on a table, bleeding, in terrible fucking shape. He tells Matt: “Mama took my leg.” He warns to leave, before she comes back. Mama Polk sounds like a real butcher in her own right. And Mama, she turns up again: it’s Frances god damn Conroy, baby! She’s as bad ass as ever, trying to serve up a bit of questionable jerky. Oh, you know what it is. A little bit of Elias. To boot, he’s bad meat. BAD MEAT! BAD MEAT!
The head smash here is one of the greatest. Ever. Some legitimately enviable practical effects work. Kudos to the technical team here because this is awesome, in the grisliest horror way possible. JUST. WOW.
Anyway, Mama’s kin made a pact with The Butcher around “200 years ago.” She needs new blood each year. Their family helps, now and then. The crops are the whole deal, so that keeps them going. But cannibals is cannibals; they like doing their thing. Problem is the hillbilly Polks are upset about their feral children being taken away. Mama keeps calling Shelby “sweet meat” and that’s pretty creepy.
Lee (Angela Bassett) got stuck talking to the police, due to Shelby cluing them into her possibly having something to do with Mason’s death, Flora gone. Of course we know the truth, but none of them know what’s been going on back at the Miller place and the Polk farm.screen-shot-2016-10-13-at-2-06-43-amLots of blood tonight! As the Polks take Shelby, Matt, and Flora who knows where, Matt takes advantage, sending a shotgun blast into the cab, as his wife puts one of the men over the truck’s pan into the road. But where can they go?
In the forest they hide. Meanwhile, Lee knows something isn’t right. Mama and her remaining kin take the Millers out to subdue them until they can get to The Butcher. Then Mama goes ahead and nearly chops Shelby’s foot clean off. So. Brutal. This episode has really brought its A-Game in terms of gore.
They’re brought back to the house, again. The Butcher and her colony waiting for blood. Flora is being readied for sacrifice. When Lee arrives, the policeman takes off on her; what a bitch! She’s left to try saving her family on her own. From nowhere, Ambrose smashes his mother with a block of wood, grabbing hold to her and puling her into the fire with him, as they burn alive. Mott frees the Millers, as Lee flies in to save her girl from the Pig Man; to save them all.screen-shot-2016-10-13-at-2-18-15-amSo that takes us to the end of the story at the house. The Roanoke Nightmare is over, right? Oh, I doubt that.
Shelby has recurring nightmares, long after their experience. Nothing can quite that it away. “We escaped with our lives that night, but I never completely got over it. Im not sure I ever will,” the real Shelby explains. And that makes a lot of sense to me.
screen-shot-2016-10-13-at-2-21-02-amHow do you think the re-enactments will play into the overall season arc? I feel the actors playing the parts are going to be affected by their roles in the re-enactments, in how you always hear about plagued movie productions. I see the actors themselves being haunted further later on. Who knows. I hope it’s a nice surprise either way.
Excited for Chapter 6!

 

 

 

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.

 

American Horror Story – My Roanoke Nightmare: “Chapter 2”

FX’s American Horror Story
Season 6, Episode 2: “Chapter 2”
Directed by Michael Goi
Written by Tim Minear

* For a review of Chapter 1, click here.
* For a review of Chapter 3, click here.
screen-shot-2016-09-22-at-1-56-18-amLast we left Matt and Shelby Miller (Cuba Gooding Jr. & Sarah Paulson in the “dramatic reenactment“; André Holland & Lily Rabe in the documentary-style clips), things were bad. Shelby’s lost in the woods, finding a strange torch wielding cult (including Wes Bentley) and a man whose skull has been… partially removed. The strange woman Shelby thought she’d run over chants in the darkness (Kathy Bates), a group of people surround a man having a pigtail nailed to him. Terribly creepy little cuts.
After running and running, Shelby stops a moment. Only to find more madness. “I never thought about what could be in the wilderness, hiding in the dark,” the real Shelby recounts. We see Bates’ character lead a strange ceremony involving a man put up on a cross, a pig’s head stuck on his shoulders. Shelby takes off again until passing out in the middle of the road, where Matt’s sister Lee (Angela Bassett) finds her. Of course it all sounds mad to the police and everyone else. Poor Shelby. God damn. Ultimately she too believes it’s the “mountain men” trying to drive them out of the house.
A very bad, tragic misunderstanding.
screen-shot-2016-09-22-at-1-59-39-amscreen-shot-2016-09-22-at-2-01-50-amWe get to see more about Lee now, she and her ex-husband Mason (Charles Malik Whitfield) exchange their daughter Flora (Saniyya Sidney) for a while. Yeah, that’s a great fucking idea. Bring a little girl into a haunted house, or at the very least a house out in the country being laid siege to by hillbillies. Anyway, things kick off real quick once Lee finds Flora talking to somebody upstairs. Who? Oh, just somebody named Priscilla. Who isn’t there. A ghost? Or something more? Lee does the smart thing and pries a bit. “She said shes tired of all the blood,” Flora responds when questioned about Priscilla and her bonnet. When Lee literally finds one laying around, she gets spooked.
The great thing about any haunted house film or show is that part of everything is the human, psychological drama happening. There’s Lee and her girl, as well as Matt and Shelby, everyone with their own issues, taking things in differently.
That night more pig noises come from outside. Shelby takes action and insists on tracking them down, so Matt tags along. In the dark, out amongst the trees, they get separated. As one would expect from any horror. When they find each other, they come across a large stick figure with a pig’s head on top, roasting in fire; the skin and meat hanging below dripping into the flames. “This was beyond having a cross burned on your lawn. There was something demonic about it.” the real Matt speaks through voice-over.
With a bit more evidence this time, the police reluctantly look into what’s happening around the Miller’s place. Then a phone call comes through to Matt in the night. Except the phone’s disconnected. In the shadows, he finds an apparition: mean nurses tending to an old, frail and sickly woman named Margaret (Irene Roseen). They can’t hear Matt, but he watches on as one of the nurses tells their patient “Youve been warned” before blowing her brains out with a revolver. Now he’s seeing terrifying things, it isn’t only Shelby anymore.screen-shot-2016-09-22-at-2-14-57-amThis incident sets things into a frenzy. The police, as suspected, can’t find anything to backup Matt’s story. He starts questioning the integrity of his brain, literally, after the incident in the city. Problem is the cops are gradually getting less interested in helping, which isn’t all that abnormal by real world standards.
When Mason shows up for Flora, they can’t find her. It used to be a game she played with them. This time, not finding her may have something to do with the house. They find Flora in a crawlspace talking to Priscilla, who disappears quickly. Apparently Flora tried to make a trade: a doll for their lives. Seems Priscilla is homicidal. And it’s not just her. Flora warns her parents: “Theyre going to kill us all. And save me for last.” Fuck. That’s eerie. Dad hauls his daughter off and things aren’t looking any better for Lee as a mother. Especially considering she started drinking afterwards, off the wagon again. She broke a few things. Shelby’s not happy to find knives in the ceiling, although we can guess that probably wasn’t Lee. Those nurses are creeping about, too. In her drunken state Lee sees a lot of things from pigtails to pig heads and it’s one bad hangover she’s headed for in the morning.
There’s a little girl hanging around outside to boot, which sends Matt and Shelby outside. They come to a trap door with a ladder leading below ground a ways; hmm. Inside are a number of things including tapes in a camcorder. On them is a man named Dr. Elias Cunningham (Denis O’Hare). He speaks frantically saying things like “Im not what I am” and generally in distress over “forces that will not let me sleep.” He speaks of the house and its forces wanting to kill him. He further assures the viewer he’s not crazy. Then Cunningham tells us of his book about two nurses – Miranda and Bridget Jane. Oh yes, you guessed which nurses. Twisted bitches. They killed people with specific names to spell out MURDER. Everything got even wilder as it went on turning into one of those epic, insane tales of true crime.screen-shot-2016-09-22-at-2-24-14-amMore craziness to set the Millers off. Peeling away wallpaper, Matt finds the unfinished word MURDE written on the wall. Everything gets more real at this point. They keep on listening to Cunningham’s rambling tape. Doesn’t help any, except to frighten the shit out of them further. Scariest yet is when the tormented doctor heads inside the house with only his camcorder, night vision on, to guide him through the silent hallways. “Show yourself,” he yells to whatever’s in the dark. Before something, someone appears and startles him. And downstairs, a butcher’s knife with blood on it is stuck in the front door.
They just wanted to leave. Not so easy, though. No getting out of that mad house. Everything amps up a notch after Lee shows up with Flora again. When she’s clearly not supposed to have here there. More of that impulsive Lee behaviour already. Her brother tries to talk sense into her. Shelby tries talking the ex-husband down from calling the cops.
But can Mason get there to take his daughter away before anything worse happens? The little girl whom I assume to be Priscilla beckons Flora to come outside, out near the trap door in the field. Then she goes missing. The adults start to search frantically.
In a clearing, Lee finds her daughter’s yellow sweater at the top of a thin, ridiculously tall tree, its trunk looking almost stained with blood. They stand below, not sure what to do next.
And what can they do?screen-shot-2016-09-22-at-2-42-05-amscreen-shot-2016-09-22-at-2-42-58-amVery pumped for “Chapter 3” next week. Some people keep complaining, and I have no idea why. I love the re-enactment stuff, it adds a fun twist to the show. I’m still feeling like there’s going to be an angle to all that. Just like My Amityville Horror had its drama, My Roanoke Nightmare is going to bring something with that faux-documentary posing as a real documentary. Mark my words.
Also, did you catch Lady Gaga in her brief appearance? She shows up a couple times early on. Very unnerving look to her character. Can’t wait for more, of everything!

 

 

 

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 9: “She Wants Revenge”

FX’s American Horror Story
Season 5, Episode 9: “She Wants Revenge”
Directed by Michael Uppendahl
Written by Brad Falchuk

* For a review of the previous episode, “The Ten Commandments Killer” – click here
* For a review of the next episode, “She Gets Revenge” – click here
screen-shot-2016-11-17-at-3-33-35-pmThis episode begins with Countess (Lady Gaga) explaining that “women age differently than men do,” but the kicker is, of course, as we know she’s a vampire. Here, she stares into the walled off corridor where James March (Evan Peters) had sealed Natacha (Alexandra Daddario) and Rudolph Valentino (Finn Wittrock).
Countess is convinced to build “something new” and makes it clear: “I will not be managed.” Later downstairs, she’s talking about her upcoming wedding to Will Drake (Cheyenne Jackson). She wants it small. Yet he tells her “Im a showman” and he wants a big wedding. Finally, she agrees that he will design the gown, she will get everything else taken care of. Then there’s Liz Taylor (Denis O’Hare), who Countess wants to arrange the flowers. Liz does not want any part of her: “Buy your own damn flowerrrrs.” And why would she want to help the Countess, after the Tristan incident. Alex Lowe (Chloë Sevigny) is still kicking around, serving drinks, to a highly disaffected Countess who only grows more and more disdainful about the world around her.
screen-shot-2016-11-17-at-3-34-29-pmThen Countess tracks down Rudolph Valentino at a motel. While simultaneously at home, she beds Donovan (Matt Bomer) again, screaming “I forgot how good you feel inside me.” They have a nice little bit of pillow talk. He asks that it only be him for her, forever; he needs commitment. Not in the way of just being with one person, but rather he wants to be the ONLY person she loves: “I swear it. But I wont make the same mistakes again,” she replies. Is this all a ruse on Donovan’s part? I’m sure he didn’t just switch back to loving her, did he? I imagine Ramona Royale (Angela Bassett) is lurking along the periphery of the Countess’ life, alongside Donovan. We’ll have to wait and see. For now, Donovan and Countess seem to be making a list – of who to murder.

Nice to Iris (Kathy Bates) again. She even tells the people at the front desk the “douche bag convention” is somewhere else. Proper. A couple pornstars show up with their disgusting director. Iris tells them she’ll bring up some “extra towels.” An AMAZING voice-over sequence after this, starting off with a Blue Monday cover and Iris talking about the “Sydney Pollack” of porn and how she went to see Deep Throat back in the day. She even calls herself “Dirty Harriet,” as well as gives us a little lesson on why pornography “hurts people,” what it does to the male and female psyches. Plus, afterwards she goes into the room and starts slitting throats, stabbing chests, and generally bloodying the place up. Good gore. Out of nowhere, Donovan appears. Very impressed with his mother. “You have clearly come into your own,” he tells her. Though, she warns about problems. We slip back to the Bartholomew incident, where that creepy little baby got out to wreak some havoc with its terrifying face; Iris gave up Ramona’s name to the Countess.
However, now we’re getting a bit of the real story. Donovan is definitely in love with the Countess. At the same time, he’s still looking for revenge. Will he get it? Or will the Countess figure it all out? Has she already? You can never tell fully.

Drake explains to his son Lachlan (Lyric Angel) about how the Countess understands him, gets him, all that. Then Miss Evers (Mare Winningham) shows up talking about how the Countess will only “bleed you dry“. It’s an eerie moment.


Then a flashback comes where Miss Evers talks about how she loved March. He claims that the Countess “is a creature from heaven” and tells her: “Its not your fault you were graced withdifferent gifts.” But back in the present, Will does not heed any of her warnings. Despite the fact we know the depth of the darkness into which he is about to plunge. I won’t quote her exact words because you NEED to experience them from her mouth; she lets Drake know exactly how she feels before leaving the room.
Down at the sealed, now unsealed, corridor, the Countess is trying to get a contractor to re-seal the hallway. After a bit of talk from him, March shows up to try and explain how it’ll all get done: “Make hastemuch to accomplish!” Some people don’t like Evan Peters this season. Me, on the other hand, I think he is classic. At times he’s darkly funny. Others he is downright fucking terrifying, to me. Here he shows off a few more chops, as the Countess gives him an ultimatum, of sorts.

Donovan shows up at Ramona Royale’s place. He has an offering: the pornstar guy from the hotel. But she thinks Donovan is a big “pussy” in her words. Though, for all Donovan’s love for the Countess, and all the doubts Ramona may have, he actually seems to be against the Countess. He admits his “addiction” for her. Yet then Donovan claims he slipped enough ghb in her drink to “knock out an elephant.” He further admits he can’t “pull the trigger.” At least Ramona “appreciates a man who recognises his own weakness.” They seem together, toasting on the blood of the pornstar.
Another excellent flashback to Ramona in the ’90s, running back to her father (Henry G. Sanders) in L.A. Her mother (Marla Gibbs) and father helped straighten her out. Also, there’s sadness. Her parents are getting older, forgetting things, getting sick. Then her mother died and her father went further off the deep end in his mind. Such a tragic sequence, yet gives such an amazing depth to Ramona. There’s a break-in scenario and her father ends up getting hurt badly, which sees Ramona give the gift of the ancient virus to him. I saw this coming. I still found it effective, and beautiful in a sense. Eternally sad, though, as “a diseased brain is not a broken bone” and not everything can be fixed with vampirism. We see more and more how absolutely shattered inside Ramona is, having to effectively euthanize her own father so that he wouldn’t remain “frozen in amber.”

Alex Lowe is off doing her own thing, too. Not only serving up drinks for the Countess. She spies on a house, then makes her way inside only to find a bunch of dead, bloody corpses. Further in, there are a bunch of vampire kids with Max as the leader; remember, the kid from the hospital to whom she gave her blood? A few of the kids are getting sick, probably drinking bad blood. Earlier in the episode there was a news report about homeless people dead in the city: all the kids. Some of the kids don’t want to drink, they’re feeling worse and worse. They want Alex to help. Other kids are alive and thriving, one even saying they should “off them,” y’know – “all the sickies.” Such a creepy scene, evoking lots of the creepy children aesthetic. Makes things quite tense and eerie. The kids, most of them, don’t want anything to do with Alex.


Back at the Hotel Cortez, Ramona and Donovan stand outside the Countess’ room, as she lays just inside sleeping on the bed.
Then a double cross, I think? The Countess wakes up before Ramona can sink a knife into her. Donovan tasers Ramona and takes her downstairs. Iris is upset about it all. Donovan is in love and he actually fell into the abyss, even though I imagined he was on the straight and narrow. Ramona ends up locked in one of those neon-lit cages. “Youre weak. I shouldve let you die,” Donovan tells his mother getting a slap in the face as a response. Where’s this going to lead Iris and Ramona now?
Rudolph and Countess are having drinks at the motel. Meanwhile, Natacha is off with her head full of “shopping and Uber.” I feel even worse for Donovan now because he’s fallen back for the Countess, while she’s still wrapped up in a time almost a century ago when she and Rudolph had their first great love. All the same, Rudolph hates the modern world. He is disgusted with everything in it, no “enchantment left” anywhere. Countess claims to hate the modern world even more than him and wants to turn the Cortez into a “fortress” against it. Still there’s Natacha to deal with. She loves everything out there. Somehow the Countess begins to try reeling her in, though. Sets up a girls night for them both without Rudie. Hmm.
And then, outside as she strolls away happily, there is Donovan. Will he finally see the light?
At the Cortez the wedding is about the be finished. Naturally, Liz objects with a hilarious quip: “Dont mind her. She drinks,” says the Countess. But the happy couple is proclaimed man and wife. The Countess wants to get the honeymoon started, so she plans to go get changed and get going. First, she gives over the flowers to Liz and gives off some nonsense about hoping she finds true love. Sad, to see Liz have to grin and bear it against this awful vampire of a woman.
Nice little meeting at the bar between Will Drake and James March. Very good stuff with James, having a little drink with Will in congratulations. “Heres to new worlds to conquer,” James toasts the newlywed gentleman. Even better is when March brings Will up to see Bartholomew in his black little crib. “What the hell is that thing?” Will draws back in terror after seeing the child-thing. Countess shows up and doesn’t like the “hateful things” Will has to say about little Bart: “Im going to make sure you suffer immensely,” she says before whacking him over the head.


Following this new development, Will finds himself down with Ramona. Only he’s on the floor while she stays locked up. But I’m sure he’ll be caged up right away, as soon as the Countess or March or whoever returns.
However, Drake doesn’t last long. He gets Ramona out, finds their in a sealed hallway, to which he quips: “Nobody knows were in here. Well starve.”
I wont,” replies Ramona. She then pounces on him, starts to feast on his bloody neck. Miss Evers shows up to gloat, as the Countess watches on a screen up in her room comfortably. The end.
screen-shot-2016-11-17-at-3-41-56-pmI’m interested to see who the she is in the next episode’s title, “She Gets Revenge”. Who will get it? Who will be revenged upon? Very exciting. Honestly, the haters can keep on hating this season. I’m digging it. Especially once we see more of John Lowe (Wes Bentley) next week. Curious to see where he goes now plot/character-wise after the revelation last episode that he is, for certain, the Ten Commandments Killer.
Stay tuned with me friends and fellow fans, more to come!

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 4: “Devil’s Night”

FX’s American Horror Story
Season 5, Episode 4:
 “Devil’s Night”
Directed by Loni Peristere
Written by Jennifer Salt

* For a review of the previous episode, “Mommy” – click here
* For a review of the next episode, “Room Service” – click here
screen-shot-2016-11-17-at-12-50-54-amOnce more, another night at the Hotel Cortez – “Devil’s Night”, in fact.
In strolls Richard Ramirez (Anthony Ruivivar) for a stay. Apparently this is his third year back since perishing. Looks as if we’re going to have a savage night, aren’t we? He pops into the room of some guests and bashes in the man’s skull with a lamp. He asks the woman to “swear to Satan” she’ll be quiet, but of course that doesn’t work. A bit of cat-and-mouse until ole James March (Evan Peters) appears at the end of the hallway…
screen-shot-2016-11-17-at-12-52-35-amA nice slick opening sets up an obviously entertaining night ahead, especially for Detective John Lowe (Wes Bentley) who is still staying at the Cortez. A hotel full of dead serial killers on the move? Should get wild.
When Lowe wakes up for the day he talks with his daughter Scarlett (Shree Crooks). It seems as if there’s a bit of a divide now starting to creep between John and his family. He’s not quite right. Doesn’t help when he starts seeing a massive pool of blood forming on the ceiling, dripping down his wall.
Better yet, we get a look at the story of Miss Evers (Mare Winningham) – back in 1925, she seems quite the prissy, uptight mother. Her child is dressed up as the typical bedsheet-eye holed ghost. After taking time to blab on with some other woman, a man abducts the little ghost and speeds away. WHOA. That’s already disturbing enough, who knows what happens from there.
Zipping back to the present, Miss Evers has a bunch of bloody sheets in the bathroom trying to get the stains out, as usual. Lowe, bleary eyed and sort of ghostly looking himself, wonders what’s going on around the hotel. She’s only a blubbering mess, but he understands. They’ve both lost children.
The ghost was taken to a ranch and caged up, poor kid. Another snippet of true American Horror – the Wineville Chicken Coop Murders – plays the backdrop for Miss Evers and her personal story. A pretty horrifying story for her. Still I’m super intrigued to see how she actually ended up at the Cortez, as well as how she and Lowe will interact more given their similar loss of young children.


John’s wife, Alex (Chloë Sevigny) has brought little Holden (Lennon Henry) home from the hotel and its weird rooms, the glass coffins. She’s glad to have him. Examining him a little, finding his temperature to be very low, things are definitely in a lull before terror strikes. Holden tells mommy he’s thirsty, but is it juice he wants? Alex pours her son a big glass. I’m pretty sure he’d rather have a nice drink of blood, though. When she goes back in with the orange juice, he’s sinking teeth into the family dog and having a snack. He wants his other mommy, not Alex.
Poor John. Man, oh, man. He is being put through the ringer. His mental state keeps slipping, as he goes back to bring up the police files on Miss Evers’ story, only to discover it happened 85 years prior. I’m just waiting for something harsh to happen with him. I don’t want it to, just have the sneaking suspicion Lowe will fall further down the rabbit hole.
Alex goes back to the Cortez, where Holden giddily climbs into his coffin. The Countess (Lady Gaga) slips in unnoticed, only to invite Alex upstairs for a chat. We get a flashback to Holden’s disappearance – The Countess was standing nearby, watching them. Terrifying moment where we see her walking away with Holden and John screams out for his son. Even more terrifying is a subtle moment: Alex pulls a gun and holds it at the Countess, who only leans back in her chair, without words saying “Fuck you and your gun”. Just a real solid moment.
Love, love, love more Liz Taylor (Denis O’Hare)! She serves Lowe a bit of soda, as John decides: “Ill have a double martini.

Control is an illusion
Tonight I surrender to the illusion

But glory glory hallelujah, Lily Rabe is back at the bar – literally – as Aileen Wuornos. She’s on her thirteenth year at the Cortez, dead since 2002. MY GOD, Rabe is a constantly amazing piece of work! Here, Wuornos sits down with Lowe for a drink. They have a bit of casual chit chat. Rabe is fucking incredible, she doesn’t copy Charlize Theron’s performance, but absolutely embodies Wuornos. For anyone who has ever seen the two documentaries about Eileen by filmmaker Nick Broomfield, you just can’t deny Lily Rabe rocks this role out of the park. The body movements, the look, the inflections in her speech and tiny idiosyncrasies about the way she performs… it’s perfect for this episode! Ruivivar did well with Ramirez, I dug that too. But Rabe is worth the price of admission this week. So great she’s back on American Horror Story. Weird, though, how Lowe ends up heading back to a room with her.
What follows is a bit of intensity that I won’t ruin with any more. See it, dig it.
Loved seeing the Zodiac Killer, dressed in the supposed getup the living victim saw him wearing all those years ago, stroll past Lowe through the lobby. Amazing episode, cramming all these infamous serial killers into the hotel. Perfect addition for the week in which Halloween falls! I’ve got a great t-shirt with this version of the Zodiac on it, very creepy. Such a nice brief shot of him going past Dt. Lowe, the costume design worked so well.
Naturally, John is weirded out by it all. Downstairs he gets an invitation from Liz Taylor for the big Devil’s Night Ball. Should be a grand time, no?


Oh my, the hits just keep on coming! John Wayne Gacy (John Carroll Lynch) talks about doing good sub-flooring with Ramirez – such an incredibly subtle way to introduce the story of Gacy, instead of having him immediately dressed as a clown or something. At the dinner table, March introduces the night with a bit of absinthe. Everyone drinks it back excitedly. Although Lowe is certainly confused. Then there’s Jeffrey Dahmer (Seth Gabel), too. Zodiac strolls in late, silent, being heckled by the other killers. JUST AN OUTRAGEOUSLY AWESOME FUCKING SCENE! Yes, there’s exposition to give us a bit of the newly introduced serial killers, but I think it comes in proper doses. Plus, Lowe eventually breaks in and starts ragging on everyone, still believing it’s all a Halloween costume party of some sort. I couldn’t get enough of this whole sequence, such a well written episode.

Hes a genius— like Galileo, or Peter Frampton.”

I won’t ruin more of the big dinner scene. There’s an excellently disturbing, grotesque sequence within it after “Sweet Jane” by Cowboy Junkies starts to play, and all the murderers get their toys out, start really enjoying themselves. So terrifying! Detective Lowe has to sit there, handcuffed due to Gacy’s saucy tricks, and watch it all go down right in front of them. Love how March gives short little explanations about how all the serial killers came to him at various periods in their lives; it gives us great context, however, it also shows us how wonderful Evan Peters is as March, he gets time to show off a bit and be “the master.” Loved this sequence with every macabre and morbid bone in my body.

John Wayne Gacy: “Johnny Depp likes my paintings!”

With a little under 10 minutes left to the episode, we see Hypodermic Sally (Sarah Paulson) having a smoke outside the hotel. Some Wall Street-looking guy wanders up to her and talks shit for a little. Turns out, he wants “whatever you’re selling“, so he says to Sally. Will this poor fella end up in one of those mattresses like the creepy skin and bones dude from “Checking In” and Gabriel (Max Greenfield), too? We’ll see how things go for this one.
Oh my, we didn’t need to wait long. Sally buys off being left alone at the hotel by bringing up a fresh carcass for the killers’ dessert. Everyone selects a knife, Gacy even gets his makeup on (nice to see Lynch as another clown; this time an arguably more sickening one), and then the fresh bloodletting begins!
Then out of nowhere, Sally seems to wake John up. He’s alone. No killers, nobody else except him in a dusty old room. What is real? What is not? He’ll never know, though, we’ve got a great idea ourselves: scary enough, it’s all too real. Once Sally has the detective out of the room, March and the others go back to business.


“Devil’s Night” finishes off with Countess bringing Alex into the fold – she’ll now be one of those carrying this “ancient virus.” With a sweet kiss, the Countess tells her to allow herself “to be ripped apart” before letting Alex feed on some of her blood. All in the name of being reunited with Holden “for all of eternity.” Or at least that’s the bullshit this particular vampire is selling. Notice how Countess weeps sort of, as we cut out on Alex’s newly opened eyes, the virus no doubt taking hold; interesting to see where this heads.
screen-shot-2016-11-17-at-1-01-42-amStay tuned for next week’s “Room Service.” Cannot wait to watch it, this episode was incredible! See you then, fellow horror fans.

The Ungodly: Deep in the Mind of a Serial Killer

The Ungodly a.k.a The Perfect Witness. 2007. Directed by Thomas C. Dunn. Written by Mark Borkowski & Thomas C. Dunn.
Starring Wes Bentley, Mark Borkowski, Joanne Baron, Marina Gatell, Albert Lopez Murtra, Kenny Johnson, and Beth Grant. Dreamz Entertainment/Zip Films. Rated 18A. 96 minutes.
Horror/Thriller

★★★★
936full-the-ungodly-poster
Recently I snatched up a few rare DVD titles on eBay, movies I’ve wanted to see a long while but – for various reasons – could not watch. All sorts of stuff, from the near lost 1977 Rituals a.k.a The Creeper to Looking for Mr. Goodbar, and others.
One such film is this 2007 horror-thriller, The Ungodly a.k.a The Perfect Witness. I’ve been a fan of Wes Bentley ever since seeing him in American Beauty, as so many of us probably have been. He’s a fantastic actor, all the more admirable for having conquered his perilous drug addiction; a state he was in during the filming of The Ungodly. Knowing he did this movie, I had to see it eventually. Finally now, I can say I’ve seen it. Verdict? Dig it. A ton. There’s a lot to admire here, from an interesting script on a familiar situation to raw and vicious existential horror. Between good writing and solid acting, this movie will take you on a hard ride. Let the whole think sink in and the further you go the more unnerving it will all become.

Mickey Gravatski (Wes Bentley) lives at home with his mother. He’s an aspiring filmmaker, definitely struggling. Not just struggling – he is a young alcoholic trying best he can to deal with his issues, going to Alcoholics Anonymous and trying to make documentaries to fill up his time. While tracking a working serial killer, or a man he thinks to be one, Mickey inadvertently catches him on video committing a murder. Blinded by the thought of fame, the young documentary filmmaker blackmails the killer – James Lemac (Mark Borkowski) – into letting Mickey film his life.
Once Lemac turns the tables on the young man, the waters get deeper, darker. And things start to spin out of control. Going from a simple talking head style documentary to a real live murder spree, Mickey’s world fast descends into chaos.
2862_01James: “Conscience is a sick bed. Under its filthy sheets lay all our fears. It’s not conscience that prevents men from killing and raping, it’s consequence. Fear of death, jails, God. But really where is he? Do they hear his name when they scream it? Do they return to him piece by piece when I’m finished with them?
2560_3000Without argument, the acting is a huge element of why The Ungodly works overall. It’s not only Bentley who comes out swinging here. Mark Borkowski – who I’ve only ever seen playing a bit part in Coppola’s Dracula and as alcoholic veteran Paul Sagorsky on HBO’s Boardwalk Empire – is unexpectedly phenomenal. I mean, maybe others might see this movie as a whole to be something completely different from how I take it. But regardless of how anybody feels, I can’t see people easily passing off Borkowski’s performance here as anything less than impressive. It’s not an easy task to make a cold blooded, relentless ruthless serial killer into a semi-sympathetic character. Yet there are key moments in the film where Borkowski does exactly that. Others times he’s chilling your blood and the hateful nature of his character comes across effortlessly.
Bentley, as I’ve mentioned, is a favourite of mine. He pulls his weight here. Even if in interviews he’s stated the throes of his drug addiction were beyond in full swing at this point, I still think he puts in good effort. There’s one moment specifically where he is lying on the floor, writhing in torture and crying, scared for his mother – you just won’t find it any better! He is capable of great range and I always find he’ll shine, doesn’t matter if the movie is good or bad overall. Just so happens this is a solid horror-thriller all around. He and Borkowski simply add an extra, delicious devilish layer to the cake.

No way this isn’t an all out horror movie. Lots of thriller aspects here, but this is pure horror in most of its best moments. Truly, it is filled with existential dread. The situation in which Mickey (Bentley) finds himself is downright awful, though, not exactly a situation he didn’t beg into being. It’s his fault, but there’s such a terror within his journey alongside serial killer James (Borkowski). Thing is, right from the beginning you keep wondering “how the hell is this even happening?”. Then constantly you find yourself flying along the rollercoaster, right there with Mickey, right there with James, and it’s as if you’re there most of the time. Insanity bubbles and boils scene after scene. Right before the hour mark, there’s a sequence that made my whole spine tighten and the intensity had me at the edge of the couch. You’ll know which one: starts with Mickey meeting a woman at her door, right before he’s blindsided by James. The whole time there’s an uneasy feeling, throwing you off balance. Though, no telling how anything will happen.
A major creep factor in The Ungodly is the backstory of James Lemac. You don’t get too much explicitly shown, except for a brief moment where a young James and his mother are seen in dreamy images down in the dark basement, lashes on the boy’s back already and his mother acting very.. inappropriately, I want to say? Either way, whatever the description, these shots are scary in an under the surface way. They grind beneath your skin and will make you feel icky. Works great. Instead of slamming the viewer in the face with expository dialogue, long winded explanations for why Lemac is the killer he has become, there’s lots of subtle madness around the corners and in the small moments between the action.
the-ungodly-(2007)-large-pictureNot entirely sure, or sure at all of why The Ungodly isn’t better regarded/known among film fans. It’s one of the better horror-thrillers I’ve watched in a while. Certainly must have been one of the best out of 2007 (serial killer horror), for me anyways. Not only are there creepy scares, intense performances, lots of good stuff in regards to terror, you’ll also find it’s shot well. The cinematography looks spectacular, this DVD release I snatched up is great quality.
In my books? 4 out of 5 stars. A fascinating take on the serial killer film with two solid actors and a horrifying (in all the right ways) screenplay. If you can get your hands on a copy, do it. At the very least this is something out of the way compared to many other horrors like it, you’ll probably find something intriguing to focus on. Say what you will: it’s not typical, in any sense.

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!