"You can check in, but you can't check out..." That's what they say at Disney World about popular theme park ride The Twilight Zone Tower Of Terror, but the same sentiment definitely applies to the upcoming season of FX's anthology series American Horror Story. The run-up to the Oct. 7 premiere of Season 5, subtitled Hotel, has already seen a smattering of unsettling promos, featuring images of people sewn into mattresses and terrifying creatures with no eyes or mouths. On Thursday, the network dropped the longest Hotel promo yet, featuring the full cast in character, leading viewers on a tour of the titular establishment.
Appropriately titled "Hallways," the teaser winds its way through a dizzying array of corridors, rooms, and cellars, all to the haunting techno tunes of "Bury Me," by French DJ Brodinski, while the star-studded cast struts around in the most outrageous costumes this side of RuPaul's Drag Race. There are hordes of creepy blonde children, blenders full of blood, people on leashes... basically, everyone's worst nightmare of a hotel all in 30 seconds.
What clues can we glean about the season from this hodgepodge of horrific images? The first thing we see as the elevator doors open is a hallway:
Wes Bentley's Detective John Lowe and his wife, Alex (Chloë Sevigny) — aka the two most normal people you'll meet in this entire promo — walk unsuspecting down the hall as creepy kids appear to flash in and out of existence around them. Are the tousle-haired tots demons? Or ghosts? Or vampires? The "door" at the end of the hallway then falls to reveal that it's really a mattress with a person stuffed inside (a la the earlier teaser):
Sarah Paulson's Hypodermic Sally starts snipping the mattress open. Is she trying to help whoever's inside? Or is she the one who put them there in the first place? The expression on her face makes me suspect the former... Also, Kathy Bates is here to let us know that we'll need her permission if we ever want to leave the Hotel Cortez — as Iris the manager, she literally holds the keys to the place. Another door swings open and we appear to step directly into a 1970s nightclub:
In a blink-and-you'll-miss-it moment, what appears to be a bald woman in a nightgown is seen wheeling a cart of children past the camera. That's actually AHS veteran Denis O'Hare like you've never seen him before — as the hotel's transvestite bartender who goes by the drag name Liz Taylor. Does Liz have some connection to the spawn of Satan? They do enjoy slurping down blood and he mixes drinks for a living... Perhaps he helps supply them with their bloody elixir? Oh, and also Angela Bassett's Ramona Royale is leading a man wearing nothing but gold shorts with a dog collar. There's that, too.
Ooh, this is my favorite room yet. All white with what looks like pillars made out of gum balls, this is where Matt Bomer's Donovan resides over his brood. I'm getting a definite Willy Wonka vibe from this room — does Donovan use some sort of Golden Ticket-type trojan horse to lure unsuspecting children into joining his ever-growing family? Lying just beyond these immaculate quarters, we catch a glimpse of the hotel's seedy underbelly through a peep hole:
Behind closed doors, Mare Winningham's crazed laundress cackles at the camera while Evan Peters — who plays the Cortez's founder, James March — shoves a suspiciously lumpy bundle down a garbage chute. We know that Mr. March designed the hotel to fulfill his own dark desires and mask his nefarious deeds (much like real-life serial killer H.H. Holmes)... but building a chute that leads directly to the lobby seems impractical when it comes to the disposing of evidence, no?
We slide down the chute and emerge in front of yet another gaggle of the ever-present blonde bloodsuckers. While it looks like they're sitting on a comfy shag carpet, it's actually the ridiculously long train of Lady Gaga's wedding dress. Why is The Countess dressed like a blushing bride? And where are Finn Wittrock's model Tristan Duffy and Cheyenne Jackson's fashion designer Will Drake striding so purposefully? With a voguing come-hither glance, Gaga beckons us to join her in the elevator. Do we dare?
AHS: Hotel premieres on Wednesday, Oct. 7 at 10 p.m..
Images: FX Networks/YouTube (7)