SPOILER ALERT: This article contains SPOILERS for the premier episode of ‘American Horror Story: Hotel’ and the rest of the season.  If you want to avoid them, turn back now!

The first episode of ‘American Horror Story: Hotel’ was an extra large hour and a half long and even so, was packed with content as viewers became acquainted with the spooky Hotel Cortez and its homicidal inhabitants, both living and otherwise.

Each season of ‘AHS’ kicks off a new storyline with different characters and that was quite evident just in the cinematography which utilized fast forward/jittery camera work and distorted “fisheye” lenses.  This contrasted sharply with the wide outdoor shots from last season’s ‘Freak Show’.  Series co-creator and showrunner Ryan Murphy states that this was intentional, in order to give this season its own flair.

“Every season has a different tone. I think last season was literally about being out in the open and being exposed and naked and nowhere to  hide with your differences. This season is more paranoid. It’s more claustrophobic. It’s more about hiding things. Hotels by nature are a good place to store secrets. [AHS cinematographer] Michael Goi and I sorta came up with a look. Also one the things that was an inspiration to us this season was the idea of the peepholes. We had the title sequence around that. Visually it’s supposed to be a representation of somebody can always watch you.”

One of the first characters that viewers were introduced to was Sarah Paulson‘s Hypodermic Sally, who follows Max Greenfield‘s character Gabriel to his hotel room.  Once inside, Gabriel shoots up with heroin but is then violently– there’s no way to put this subtly– butt raped by the Addiction Demon, as Sally watches and attempts to soothe his pain.

It is soon discovered in a flashback, however that Sally was killed by Iris (Kathy Bates) many years earlier.  Some may be wondering how Sally appeared in the present, looking exactly as she did in the flashback.  The answer harkens back to the first season, ‘Murder House’.  Sally is a ghost and because she was killed at the Hotel, her spirit is trapped there.

Murphy explains:

“Yeah she was pushed out the window. She died on the property… The Addiction Demon is there to inflict his pain and suffering which addiction does not only to the victims but to the people around them. I think Sally is there, having gone through the experience, to comfort them in their time of need. She’s more of the yin to the yang. Those two do work together but she’s gone through it and she died for it. So she’s trying in some ways I think to make amends for her ghastly acts.”

He also revealed that Sally is the one responsible for sewing victims inside the mattress as the two Swedish visitors discovered.

So we have demons and ghosts, but the real threat this season are Lady Gaga/The Countess and her blood-thirsty brood of demi-vampires.  (Or are they?)  Murphy explained that he wanted to depict vampires, but in a different light than they are traditionally portrayed.

“I liked doing vampirism but I didn’t wanna do vampires. Gaga has a big line in the second episode where she turns somebody and they ask her all questions. I was interested in it being some sort of weird, almost biblical virus that has its own good and bad properties. It leads to a super-charged immune system. But we’re not doing the thing about you can only kill them with a silver bullet or a stake. If you walk in front of a car, you die. They are very much mortals but they have this virus that impedes the aging process. It’s based on stuff that’s happening right now with stem cell research and all that stuff. It’s really not to me that crazy or fantastical of what could come in the next couple of years. The show always plays with mortality and the idea of aging and beauty.”

But IS The Countess the real monster this season?  Iris mentioned “That thing in Room 33.”  Viewers have to wait a few more weeks to find out exactly what that “thing” is, but Murphy did offer this tease:

“We have an entire episode dedicated to the thing in room 33—episode 5. The thing in room 33’s name is Bartholomew.”

But is there an even bigger threat?  Wes Bentley’s character John Lowe checks into the Hotel Cortez to work on a serial killer case, which it turns out ties into the hotel itself:

“Everyone is tied to the Ten Commandments Killer. The great fun is, “Who among them is that killer?” It’s obviously someone who’s staying in the hotel.”

What else can fans expect this season?

“Episode two takes you deeper into the mythology of the characters and you get to meet some more people. You get to meet Mr. March who is Evan Peters. I think this is Evan’s best role we’ve ever done. Usually Evan is the tortured good guy or the tortured ingénue. But this year we decided to go a very different route and just make him perhaps the worst human being to have ever lived. So he’s the bad guy and you get to really meet him and how he built the hotel. It’s loosely inspired by HH Holmes and that hotel of horrors he made.

It gets into the romantic exploits of Gaga and Matt Bomer. You also get to meet Finn Wittrock’s character who is a tortured crystal meth-using male model, so that’s always fun. You meet Naomi Campbell who’s brilliant and hilarious. She plays a bored Vogue magazine editor.”

‘American Horror Story: Hotel’ got off to quite a shocking and gruesome start.  Hopefully it will continue with the chills as the season progresses.

What do you think?  Did the premier episode deliver?

Source: Entertainment Weekly