‘American Horror Story’ Just Had Its Most Gruesome Scene in ‘AHS: Hotel’ Season Premiere
American Horror Story has subjected its fans to some of the most grotesque forms of violence. From high school shootings in Murder House, shock therapy torture in Asylum, bleach enemas and acid attacks in Coven and leg amputations in Freak Show, Ryan Murphy has shown it all, at least before Hotel premiered.
Wednesday night’s season premiere of AHS: Hotel -- full spoiler alert -- was overflowing with graphic imagery that will surely creep into your nightmares. On top of a bloody vampiric orgy, disembowled murder victims and a terrifying use of superglue, the episode also featured one of the most horrific scenes in AHS history.
In the episode we meet guest star Max Greenfield as Gabriel, a junkie looking for a place to shoot up heroin in private. Kathy Bates’ hotel receptionist Iris checks Gabriel into room 64, which we soon learn is the room you definitely don’t want to be near. But tripping on heroin in a shady downtown Los Angeles hotel isn’t creepy enough for Murphy’s standards. Instead, AHS introduced one of its most terrifying characters since Rubber Man: The Addiction Demon. A creature covered in wax-like skin (similar to the faceless creature in an early Hotel teaser), the Demon appears out of the dark corners of room 64 wearing nothing but a strap on drill-bit dildo (an obvious nod to one horrifying scene from Se7en). What follows is an intense rape scene in which Gabriel is violently attacked by the dildo-wielding demon.
While AHS has attempted to shock us with every kind of rape, incest and murder scenario, Hotel‘s demon rape was undoubtedly the series’ most unexpectedly shocking moment, and one that is sure to garner some controversy. Murphy doesn’t just suggest the incident, but fully shows it on screen as Sarah Paulson’s junkie Sally sits calmly by the bed watching the rape happen. So was it all just for shock value?
While the scene clearly plays like senseless violence for the sake of boosting ratings, Murphy says there’s meaning behind it. The co-creator previously spoke to Entertainment Weekly about the scene, calling it “the most disturbing scene” he’s ever filmed (yup). Murphy added that the Addiction Demon serves as “a representation of that and what people go through fighting addiction.” Greenfield also spoke to the metaphor of the rape, telling Vulture that the scene reveals the “terror and that hold that [addiction] has over people.” Greenfield added, “I think for what Ryan [Murphy] was trying to say with the scene and what he was trying to portray [was about] the kind of hold that addiction can have on a human being. He wanted it to be graphic, and I think he wanted it to be intense and to shock people.”
That’s all great, but did Murphy go too far? Without the context of Murphy or Greenfield’s quotes the scene feels more exploitative and callous than successfully showing the depths of addiction. Even though Murphy may have intention behind the scene that he plans to explore further, the season premiere’s rape scene was little more than meaningless, sensationalized violence. If the rest of Hotel doesn’t begin using its excessive gore to actually serve the narrative then its becomes nothing more than sadistic torture porn. And honestly, how much more of that are we expected to take?
American Horror Story: Hotel airs on Wednesdays at 10:00 p.m. ET on FX.