Five seasons in, and you get the impression that the premise is wearing thin with American Horror Story.
While Hotel initially looks promising, presenting us with some of the most genuinely disturbing scenes we’ve seen on TV in a while (something truly horrifying gets done to New Girl‘s Max Greenfield in the first episode), eventually it regresses into a flashier version of first season Murder House, only with Lady Gaga instead of Jessica Lange.
Ultimately, this is where the show runs into problems. While the singer has stage presence in abundance, the kindest thing we can say about her acting ability is that it’s unconvincing. And when she’s surrounded by the reliable likes of Sarah Paulson, Evan Peters, Kathy Bates, Angela Bassett and Denis O’Hare (all on their A-game here), this only becomes more paramount.
Most unforgivably, by the time the anti-climatic finale comes around, American Horror Story has become the one thing it should never be: boring. While previous series all had their standout moments, all the murder eventually becomes mundane in Hotel – it’s hard to truly care for any of the hotel’s short-lived residents when we know so little about them, and for all the buckets of blood that are spilt throughout the duration, there isn’t a whole lot of substance.
Moreover, it can’t seem to decide exactly what its main focus is. Initially it’s on grieving detective Wes Bentley’s search for his missing son as his private life implodes around him, but ultimately the narrative seems to lost all interest in him, explaining everything away with a fairly predicatable plot twist and switching the focus to Lady Gaga’s Countess. By the end, it’s hard to understand what the point of it all was.
As ever, the set design is spot on and brilliantly atmospheric, but ultimately this feels too similar to other, better series to really stand out.