The 5th season of American Horror Story checked in on October 7th of this year. This season’s storyline takes place in the Hotel Cortez in Los Angeles, California. The hotel’s many guests provide an intrigue that latches onto the viewers from episode one. The Cortez also sparks the interest of a police detective who sees first hand the historical haunting past of the building. Several different subplots are seen intertwining throughout the progression of the season.
Fans of American Horror Story seem to always be curious as to what the title sequence of each season will be like. This short sequence tends to consistently be elaborately bizarre, down to the creepy nightmares climbing out of the beds. Hotel’s sequence features neon lights flashing the ten commandments, which presents itself in the plot as the series progresses. Along with those eerie images, the sequence also features skeletons and ghostly figures floating down the corridors. Just seeing the beginning sequence alone could potentially cause an appearance of the disturbing figures in anyone’s nightmares.
The cast is not unlike the previous season’s, with reappearances of Evan Peters, Sarah Paulson, Denis O’Hare, Kathy Bates, and Finn Wittrock, just to name a few. However, one of the main characters this season is new to the American Horror Story scene. Lady Gaga made her appearance as the luxurious vampire countess in the series. Her well known name may have brought some suspicions of simply a marketing stunt; however, she stepped up to the challenge and has been playing her role excellently so far. The all glamour lifestyle of the countess shows similarities to Gaga’s lifestyle outside of acting.
The acting, like past seasons, successfully sends shivers down the spines of those watching. This season acting brings about the important aspect of wanting to understand the backstories of the characters. In the case of the Countess, her behavior in the present leads people to wonder what her previous longer than human lifespan was like. The actions of Sally have to coexist with the fact that she was pushed out a window and is now simply trapped in as an eternal guest at the Cortez.
Cinematography can be something that makes or breaks any horror film. But in the case of American Horror Story, they embrace the lighting, angles, and frames as their best features. The key to this series lies in the ability of the camera to be at just the right places at the right times. This is how the the story is told, through ambiguous point of views and sneaky movements. If the cinematography was not executed right, the series would not be as successful as it is today. Everything seen in the frame is meant to only enhance the scene, which is done throughout the Hotel episodes thus far.
The director of this horrifying masterpiece is Ryan Murphy. He knows how to create even the most unsuspecting plot twists. This season, he included more bloody scenes than in the past seasons, even by the standards of a couple of vampires. The gore filled scenes interspersed throughout the episodes enhance the growing unease that the viewers have as their feelings range from strong disgust to horror. These scenes are necessary in the case of the vampires involved in order to make the points of the character’s intentions.
This series has some promising elements for the upcoming episodes. The ability of the director and the actors to work together to draw the viewers in and get attached is one that is not always easy to achieve, especially in the horror genre. Each Wednesday night the tensions and questions continue to build. The eerie subject matter as well as the intricate connecting subplots keep the audience on the edge of their seats in a mixture of curiosity and horror.