Creator Ryan Murphy’s hangups with women notwithstanding (they are ultimately alien, inscrutable and have icky body parts), he has struck perhaps his deepest chord of horror yet with murderous children in this week’s episode of American Horror Story: Hotel, entitled “Room Service.”
By ratcheting down the camp factor that gave viewers a just-kidding wink and a hug over the last two seasons, Hotel has returned to the relentless grip of dread of season one, Murder House, wherein all our worst suspicions came true and the universe was revealed to be a merciless hell of pain, death, and perpetual entrapment. I will literally never forget the shock, the BETRAYAL of the scene from Murder House where the teen girl played by Taissa Farmiga is revealed to have succeeded in killing herself, that she is a ghost, and that we viewers are to be granted no quarter, not a glimpse of sunshine amid the gloom.
Part of the gravitas of this season comes from populating the fictional, fantastical world of the hotel with real-world serial killer characters and showing us the unvarnished joie de mort of these sociopaths, the utter lack of human empathy that enabled their crimes in this, our real world.
But the deepest horror comes from the actions of children, transformed into monsters by the vampire virus after Chloe Sevigny’s MD character rashly saves the life of a dying measles victim by giving him some of her own (newly vampiric) blood. The boy, Max, is saved and miraculously up and about! His mother rejoices, but Chloe is wary. Joy evaporates as the boy dispatches and drinks his parents dry at home, before heading off to school, infecting his classmates, who collectively slaughter and consume teachers and administrators, because drinking their blood makes “you feel awesome.”
The stone cold killer kids then do what they know is expected of them and lie through their blood-stained teeth, emerging from the school, blaming the massacre on a “man in a black hood.” They are the perfect sociopaths, telling us what we want to hear, need to hear, manipulating the adults who feel compelled to protect the poor, frightened darlings even though they all look a little off and something doesn’t smell quite right.
Do our own children manipulate us, tell us what we want to hear, play the role of the vulnerable innocent to suit their own ends? Of course they do, consciously or not, but fortunately very few of them turn out to be ruthless murderers. But some of them do, and this reality-based fear gives the killer kid scenario its powerful jolt. Children appear to need us, to rely upon us, to love us, but what if they are just using us, biding their time before they strike in coldest blood, leaving us duped and dead? This is a nagging question at the back of all of our minds, and it is horrifying.
Suddenly killer kids are everywhere. In AHSHotel; in the current season of Supernatural, the embodiment of the Darkness, Amara, grows very quickly from infant to young girl to tween, all the while feeding gluttonously on the souls of those around her, growing ever stronger in power and manipulative evil. The award-winning film The Boy examines “the birth of evil” in the form of a 9 year-old sociopath. LMN recently ran a series called Killer Kids.
We do not wish to be deceived, to be manipulated, even killed by the fruits of our loins, by OURSELVES, for our children are half us. This is the ultimate horror and Hotel found it.