Okay okay, the eponymous hotel in American Horror Story season 5 is actually called the Hotel Cortez, not the Bates Hotel, but the comparison is too perfect not to make as horror icon Kathy Bates plays the manager in the upcoming American Horror Story: Hotel.
Season 5 of the horror anthology series begins this October, featuring old and new faces in an all new setting - The Hotel Cortez. Owned by Lady Gaga's Countess Elizabeth (yes, really) the hotel is based to an extent on the Cecil Hotel in Los Angeles, a site of several murders, suicides and other events which have earned it a haunted reputation. Full plot details for season 5 aren't yet known, and we've been given little to speculate on.
So here's what we do know...
A return to a more primal horror?
Ryan Murphy, one of the creators, has confirmed that season 5 is going to be the darkest yet, marking a return to the exploration of his own personal fears such as way back in season 1.
"The upcoming season that we're doing is much more horror-based; it's much more dark. It's about a theme and an idea that's very close to my heart that I've always wanted to do that's a little bloodier and grislier I think than anything that we've done before; it's straight horror this year. Murder House, I thought, was a very primal season because everybody's great fear is about the bogeyman under the bed in their house, and this feels similar to me in that when you check into a hotel, there are certain things beyond your control... Other people have the keys to your room; they can come in there. You're not exactly safe, it's a very unsettling idea."
Season 1 often cut a bit close to the bone with it's supernatural exploration of infidelity and parenthood, so the claim that its next iteration is going to be even darker means this should make for a very interesting season indeed.
An ongoing narrative?
Furthermore, Murphy has explained that the Hotel Cortez will feature characters from previous seasons of the show, and will be connected narratively to the stories from seasons 1 - 4. This follows his confirmation last year that all the seemingly separate seasons of the show are in fact connected.
"They’re all connected. We’re just beginning to tell you how they’re connected. They’re all very separate but there’s clues every season that we’re now telling you how the different worlds are intertwined."
Could season 5 be the one to bring the Murder House, the Asylum, the Coven and the Freak Show together? What does this suggest about the overarching narrative? Is this really all leading up to something, or just some fun fanservice?
HuffPost have put together an infographic of the connections here if you want to take a closer look at this theory.
An ensemble cast, but no more Jessica Lange
This will be the first season not to feature actress Jessica Lange, a sad departure from the show indeed. This season will feature an ensemble cast, with no one particular main character, a decision that was influenced by Lange leaving the show as she's usually functioned as our primary.
Here's our central cast so far:
- Lady Gaga - Elizabeth/The Countess: owner of the Hotel Cortez
- Kathy Bates - Iris: the manager of the hotel
- Sarah Paulson - Hypodermic Sally: a resident of the hotel and antagonist to Iris
- Matt Bomer - Donovan: Iris's son and a resident of the hotel
- Angela Bassett - Ramona Royale: an actress staying in the hotel
- Wes Bentley - John Lowe: a detective investigating foul play in the hotel
- Chloë Sevigny - Alex Lowe: a doctor and John's wife
- Denis O'Hare - Liz Taylor: a hotel bar worker
- Evan Peters - Mr. March: (possibly a ghost?)
- Lily Rabe - Aileen Wuornos: the infamous serial killer
With the new season being set in a hotel it does seem like a return to the more localised claustrophobia of the first season, so perhaps this is the season that American Horror Story finally comes full circle.