His Dark Materials
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American Horror Story: Hotel opens spectacularly with "Checking In," though its shocking moments and stylistic flourishes outweigh a compelling narrative.
The end result is a confusing mishmash of somewhat familiar stories, desperately trying to work as a cohesive unit but still not hitting the right resonance with one another.
If Hotel will have a problem, "mediocre ambition" is not likely to be it.
There's something enticing about the hotel, and about American Horror Story, despite their shortcomings.
There's a long and gloriously unhinged musical montage, set to "Tear You Apart" by She Wants Revenge. We meet a pair of perfect decadents who reside in the hotel's penthouse. They are Lady Gaga and Matthew Bomer.
There is no way in hell that the Hotel Cortez could actually exist in modern-day Los Angeles, because if it did, I would be booking a room faster than you can type Kayak dot com into whichever internet browser you prefer.
If the idea is to just give us a procession of "WTF?" moments, then mission accomplished.
If you haven't noticed, American Horror Story is great at first episodes.
"Checking In" isn't a good start for American Horror Story: Hotel. Already we're seeing the odd season's penchant for attempts to freak out its audience, rather than creating an interesting horror story with a decent plot.
This season of Murphy's anthology series is all about decadence, perversion and sensationalism.
"Checking in" was a solid opener. It had everything you'd expect from this crazy show and more. Let's hope the show has a more consistent run this time round.
Overall, this is an excellent hour of television - stuffed with jaw-dropping moments, tense set-pieces and Lady Gaga at her grandest. Now we've checked into American Horror Story's Hotel, we're not sure we're ever going to want to leave.
The overall feel of Hotel is fairly similar to Murder House, which also featured time jumps, unexplained creepy dudes in rubber suits, ghosts, demon children and an obsession of fish-eye lens camera shots.