05 “Room Service” (American Horror Story Hotel) [SPOILERS]

american horror story hotel

Given that Halloween fell between two episodes of Hotel, it makes sense that two episodes would have a Halloween theme.

The first of them was actually pretty good, blocking out some of the noise of the extraneous storylines. They will presumably need to be revisited this time around, but that’s okay because it finally feels like the series has some clue where it’s going.

Part of American Horror Story‘s unique charm — not limited to Hotel — is that they start filming before they’ve actually finished writing it. So when it seems a bit lost, it sort of is. But then again, that’s what makes it one of the most interesting shows on TV.

Read on…(and mind the spoilers!)

04 “Devil’s Night” (American Horror Story Hotel) [SPOILERS]

american horror story hotelThere is a proud tradition of American Horror Story Halloween episodes, right from Murder House. It make sense that this is the time that the series pulls out its A-grade material, drawing on the Halloween culture.

So what does Hotel have to offer?

Hopefully, a little cohesion. It would be churlish to deny that things have been improving since a rather flat and lacklustre opening episode, but we’re still a long way behind the expectations that four preceding series have set.

Read on…(and mind the spoilers!)

03 “Mommy” (American Horror Story: Hotel) [SPOILERS]

american horror story hotel

If the first episode of American Horror Story Hotel felt flat, which it did, then the second at least felt a bit more like the series we know and love.

There were always going to be a few teething pains this time around, really. Though the anthology nature of the show allows a world of inter-season flexibility, Jessica Lange had established herself as the mainstay from the very first outing. Finding a rhythm that works without her was always going to be a tough challenge.

Thusfar I don’t see Lady Gaga as her replacement. That’s not to say that she’s doing a bad job, far from it, but she doesn’t yet have the confidence to carry the series on her own. In that respect we’re going to need a greater sharing of the weight amongst the stellar and experienced cast.

Which isn’t a problem, it’s just that the writers need to start giving them the chance to do so.

Read on…(and mind the spoilers!)

02 “Chutes and Ladders” (American Horror Story: Hotel) [SPOILERS]

american horror story hotel

American Horror Story is all about the big bang. Not necessarily loud, but it should hit you in the gut like a sledgehammer. It’s not altogether encouraging, then, that the opening episode of Hotel felt a little…weak.

The pieces were all there, particularly the aesthetics, which I have to say showed an attention to detail. But there was little in the way of overarching plot linking it together. Really, it felt like a lot of glamorous and good-looking people  simply moving around in front of some amazing sets.

And that is just not what American Horror Story is about. True enough, it has those facets. It uses them for dramatic effect and to dress the window, but the importance is that window reflecting onto the darknesses of the human soul.

The second episode remembering that fact would be very welcome.

Read on…(and mind the spoilers!)

01 “Checking In” (American Horror Story: Hotel) [SPOILERS]

american horror story hotel

So it’s back. It seems a bit weird to think of Hotel as American Horror Story‘s fifth season, perhaps due to the anthology style approach it takes, meaning that although the series’ are interconnected (Apparently… -Ed) they don’t follow on from each other and the reappearing actors and actresses play completely different roles.

But Hotel is going to be different. Season four, Freak Show, was Jessica Lange’s last. Since the start she had been the mainstay of the series, with a succession of commanding and show-stealing performances. Now, without her, it looks like Lady Gaga of all people is taking her place.

Now, Lange’s are big shoes to fill. And I’m genuinely not sure that Gaga has the acting skill to match it. Or even the vocal talents.

That said, American Horror Story has always been a series built on innovation. Given how it reinvents itself every year, I have to believe that it can overcome the loss of its big star. Hopefully with some off-the-wall writing and some creepy Shining references.

Read on…(and mind the spoilers!)

It Follows – A Review

it follows

There was a bit of a stir about It Follows when it came out a little while back.

It happens occasionally. Horror is, by and large, a looked-down-upon genre amongst many film critic circles, but occasionally some of the magic gets through. As in the case of It Follows, from the look of it; something which gets the mechanics right on the one level, and the deeper meaning on another.

Of course, there’s always a danger. The “meaningful” can easily become dull, and lose any sort of actual relevance. Walking the tightrope is a difficult task. Is It Follows up to it?

Read on…

13 “Waiting for the Man” (Constantine season 1) [SPOILERS]

constantine title

So this is it. Maybe.

The last episode of Constantine‘s first series has come and passed, and still no news on its future. And in this case, I suspect, no news is probably bad news.

As someone who has enjoyed the series, and who has a deep love for the source material, it pains me to think that this series hasn’t measured up. It hasn’t been bad, and has had a great many excellent features, but some of the competition it was up against was in a different league.

It may yet be that NBC decide to give it another chance. Or another network sees the potential and decides to take it off NBC’s hands. Or, this may be the only series we get to see.

Let’s hope, then, that its final hurrah is a good one.

Read on…

11 “A Whole World Out There” (Constantine season 1) [SPOILERS]

constantine title

I genuinely expected the preface for my review of the latest episode of Constantine to be a eulogy. But somehow, despite being on life-support, against all the odds, the patient is still alive. Indeed, there’s a petition which has been started to try and persuade NBC to relent and give the show the second series that it, on balance, (probably) deserves.

I’ve signed, of course. I’d sign purely to keep Matt Ryan in a job (in this job), as the most authentic Constantine I’ve ever seen.

At time of press said petition had 16,597, so still a fair way short of the 100,000 target. But fan campaigning saved Farscape, bringing it back for the triumphantly brilliant Peacekeeper Wars. Then Firefly fans jumped on the bandwagon and got Serenity made. And both of those shows had already been sent to the great studio in the sky.

So can fan activism save Constantine from the axe in the first place? I have to believe so…

Read on…(and mind the spoilers!)

10 “Quid Pro Quo” (Constantine season 1) [SPOILERS]

constantine title

I think it’s definitely arguable that last week’s Constantine heralded the beginning of what the show should have been from the very start. The biggest shame of all is that it has come so late in its first season. Had it been doing this sort of thing from the very beginning, the axe would definitely not be floating over its head.

And believe me, there is an axe. It has yet to fall, and there is still the chance that it may not, but on balance I think that Constantine is for the chop.

Which, as I say, is a shame. But that’s where we are.

Read on… (and mind the spoilers!)

13 “Curtain Call” (American Horror Story: Freak Show) [SPOILERS]

ahs freakshow

Somehow we’ve had twelve episodes of American Horror Story’s fourth season over the last few months. Which means this, the lucky thirteenth, is the last.

These series always feel far too short, ending just as I’m getting into them. That’s part of the magic I suppose, and in fitting with the circus-y theme, always leave the audience wanting more.

The story of these freaks has been, to my mind, magnificiently woven and has taken the AHS franchise to new places. Not every idea, as ever, has worked, but I would say that more have than in previous series.

Of course, the fear hanging heavy is that Jessica Lange won’t change her mind and return to the series for the next season. So if “Curtain Call” is really her own curtain call, then it had better be good.

Read on…(and mind the spoilers!)