American Horror Story is one of my favorite shows on television. Just seeing the story world in this trailer gets my heart pumping. Let’s do this!
What We Know
Lady Gaga plays Countess Elizabeth, proprietor of Hotel Cortez. She has some dark needs: first, an “ancient blood virus” that she must satiate by drinking human blood, and then, a ravenous sexual appetite–sleeping with both Matt Bomer’s character Donovan (the son of the front clerk, Iris, played by Kathy Bates) and Finn Wittrock’s male model character Tristan. She also formerly had a fling with Ramona Royale, played by Angela Bassett. Denis O’Hare will play Liz Taylor, a cross-dressing bartender at the hotel. Wes Bentley plays Detective John Lowe, who’s investigating a string of murders at the hotel, and Lily Rabe plays Aileen Wurno, who was an actual serial killer in Florida from 1989-1990. Evan Peters finally gets a “big boy” role, playing the former owner and builder of the hotel, James March. We’ll also get into the history of the hotel via Marcy (played by Christine Estabrook), the real estate agent from season one who just so happens to be the agent for Hotel Cortez as well. Two junkies, played by Sarah Paulson and Max Greenfield, leads us to the Big Scary. Preceded by the rubber man, Bloodyface, and Twisty the Clown, for American Horror Story: Hotel, it’s the Addiction Demon. You can see him here:
- Heartache. Almost all of the trailers have used Heidi Feek’s rendition of “Heartbreak Hotel.” If you’ve never paid much attention to the lyrics, you should. Hotel Cortez promises to be a place full of people who are so lonely they could die.
- Gaga style. She’ll be wearing gauntlets with pointy claws to draw blood, and she’ll look fabulous every second of the show. Even from the first trailer, the place feels like a Gaga video, especially “Bad Romance.” She’s always danced on the glam/grotesque line, and we’ll see that this season.
- Killers. There will be a big exploration of defining a “killer.” Are addicts killers because they kill themselves? Is the Addiction Demon the real killer? Is Countess Elizabeth a killer, even though she has a blood virus? Wasn’t she just born that way (ha!)? The Halloween episodes will feature a dinner with famous serial killers across time. They’re the obvious killers, right, or will we be made to sympathize with them? After Coven, it will be hard not to love Lily Rabe, no matter her character. And what about the hotel’s namesake, Hernan Cortes? Neil Young wrote a song about the conquistador called “Cortez the Killer,” which is all about how Cortez destroyed the Aztec civilization. Then again, the Aztec’s believed in human sacrifice, so should we hate Cortez or thank him?
- Lots of surprise places to find bodies. James March likely built the hotel with H.H. Holmes-style secret rooms.
- Delusion. It’s been suggested that during the Halloween episode, the detective will think he’s being pranked by meeting serial killers from different decades. I think he’ll begin to question his sanity. Adding to the concept of delusion, we have the addicts, who will likely have a different narrative from the sober. Additionally, MTV asked Finn Wittrock about the fact that he, Matt Bomer, Cheyenne Jackson, Wes Bentley, and Max Greenfield all look similar, and he said, “I don’t know how conscious or unconscious that was on Ryan’s part, but there is actually a purpose behind us looking similar. There is a story point in that. It’s a bit under the surface, but it’s not a total accident.” Having five guys that look alike could play into the idea of delusion–are they really all even at the hotel? Are they the same person? Throughout the show, I imagine we’ll all be asking, are we just in Gaga’s crazy mind?
- Noir. Maybe I’ve seen too much Angel, but if we’ve got a detective investigating something to do with a vampiric lady at a sexy hotel, it’s going to feel at least a little noir.
Hotel Trope Predictions
I made more predictions based on how Murphy honors and converses with horror tropes in his work. Here are some possible influences and their legacies:
- Psycho brings voyeurism and anonymous wayward souls. Between the detective, the staff, and the guests, there will be a lot of spying. We’ll glimpse tragedies, kink, and evil as we immerse ourselves in the world. I wonder if Murphy will continue to suggest the TV audience as voyeurs, an idea that was introduced in Freak Show. It’s possible that it could go in a new direction, examining at how we watch each other, but fail to cross the observer-participant barrier, thus remaining lonely even when human connection is within reach.
- The Shining also builds on the idea of loneliness and isolation, but it introduces delusion and addiction. I’ll be thinking of The Shining when we first go to the Cortez bar, knowing that the bartender may serve as instigator. There are also going to be creepy kids this season! The “towheads” in the first trailer are definitely Gaga’s little monsters, who also feed on blood. They may be by-products of Elizabeth’s love affairs or spirits she can control Dracula-style.
- The Innkeepers, 1408, and Vacancy are other great hotel horror films, but they rely on the same tropes as Psycho and The Shining. The other thing they all have in common is that each one has a depressing ending. In keeping with this tradition, American Horror Story: Hotel promises to end bleakly, unlike the preceding seasons.
Will you be watching the premiere on Wednesday, October 7th on FX? What predictions do you have for this season?