Ryan Murphy: American Horror Story: Hotel is ‘grislier, bloodier’

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As details on the upcoming fifth season of American Horror Story roll in, co-creator Ryan Murphy has spoken to its tone, one he calls more “horror-based” and “a little bloodier and grislier.” 

Speaking to Deadline about all things AHS, Murphy indicates Hotel will subvert expectations. As Freak Show was a colorful, sad season with often weekly musical acts, one might expect the new Lady Gaga-led season to follow suit. “People, keep saying to me, ‘What numbers are they singing, what numbers are they singing,’ and I say there will be no numbers,” Murphy explains.

“The interesting thing is we cast a lot of singers this season but I like that singers, for the most part, are always great actors because they know how to sell a story through song, through a scene. I’m excited about that and I think that’s why Gaga was excited about it; it’s not something that she’s ever done before. It’s a pure acting part. I think people expect that she’s going to be sitting in a bar in a white silk gown sort of singing songs — she is not. 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.”

Speaking to the horror, Murphy says he was inspired by hotels and the space they occupy in the genre. “It’s based in the hotel in horror movies and horror tropes. We’ve researched several real-live hotels in downtown LA where absolutely horrifying things happened. Murder House [American Horror Story’s first season] 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.”

While American Horror Story has carved a space for itself as the most outspoken series—one where truly anything goes—a return to out-and-out horror focus feels much needed. Murder House was so striking in where its unsettling nature intersected with the series’ kinky sensibilities. The same goes for the grim Asylum.

Murphy further adds that Denis O’Hare will be likely returning to the series for Hotel, and to never say never when it comes to Jessica Lange. For the full conversation, which touches on Freak Show’s poetic tone and more, head here.