TV Review: ‘AMERICAN HORROR STORY: HOTEL’ Gives A Frightfully Good Check-In


12036429_960305720672078_3508635545717214927_nAndy Begay // Contributing Writer

We’re well into October, which means it’s high time for cooler temperatures, Halloween preparations, pumpkin-spiced everything and the sweet, disturbing goodness of AMERICAN HORROR STORY. Powerhouse Jessica Lange may be absent from the all-star AHS cast this year, but if the 90-minute season premiere of the anthology series’ newest installment, HOTEL, is any indication of things to come, we are in for a long, twisted ride nonetheless.

Lady Gaga as The Countess. Photo courtesy of Frank Ockenfels/FX.

Lady Gaga as The Countess. Photo courtesy of Frank Ockenfels/FX.

As always, creators Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk introduce us to a brand new macabre world of campy horror in the fifth chapter of their Emmy-winning AHS franchise. This time around, we check in to the Hotel Cortez, an Art Deco style hotel in Los Angeles whose vintage walls have seen many a guest come and go– or have a few, if not all who have checked in, stayed behind to let their presence be known for some yet-to-be-revealed reason? Whatever the case, HOTEL promises to deliver its fair share of glitz, glamour, gore and, of course, Gaga.

If you thought AHS couldn’t push the envelope any further, think again. HOTEL introduces us to a new horde of characters– including the Countess, a hemophiliac sex-addict played by the ever-outlandish Lady Gaga; Hypodermic Sally, a damaged drug-addict played by AHS veteran Sarah Paulson; Iris, the off-putting Hotel Cortez front desk clerk played by Kathy Bates; and Liz Taylor, a cross-dressing Cortez employee played by Denis O’Hare— whose stories are dark, mysterious and not for the faint of heart.

Master production designer Mark Worthington once again lends his expertise to the AHS franchise in this newest installment by creating a sprawling hotel full of Old Hollywood beauty and charm shrouded in mystery. His opulent-yet-sinister creation serves as the perfect backdrop for what’s to come this season in HOTEL— you can almost smell the mustiness as you traverse the Hotel Cortez’s hallways with the characters. Brace yourself for mattresses filled with more than just springs, a grisly ghoul equipped with a golden spike used for heinous purposes and a blood-infused orgy with Mother Monster herself– and that’s just in the first hour!

Be sure to tune in every Wednesday to watch what happens in Murphy and Falchuk’s newest (and most likely), bloodiest world of horror, if you dare. Who knows, by the end of HOTEL, we all may think twice before checking in anywhere– for things, even in real life, are rarely what they seem.

AHS: HOTEL premieres tonight at 10/9c on FX.

About author

Preston Barta

I have been working as a film journalist since 2010, dividing the first four years between radio broadcasting and entertainment writing in the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex. In 2014, I entered Fresh Fiction ( as the features editor. The following year, I stepped into the film critic position at the Denton Record-Chronicle, a daily North Texas print publication. My time is dedicated to writing theatrical film reviews, at-home entertainment columns, and conducting interviews with on-screen talent and filmmakers, as well as hosting a podcast devoted to genre filmmaking (called My Bloody Podcast). I've been married for seven happy years, and I have one son who is all about dinosaurs just like his dad.