There’s a hallway on the set of “American Horror Story: Hotel” where the actors would consistently get lost and confused.
“It was almost like it was haunted,” says the set’s creator, production designer Mark Worthington, who has worked for FX’s “AHS” and creator/executive producer Ryan Murphy from the show’s beginnings in 2011.
The anthology series centers on different characters and locations each season. There’s been a house with a murderous past, an insane asylum, a witch coven, a freak show — and now the Hotel Cortez in Los Angeles, with its hallway serving as the locus of last season’s graphic stories.
Worthington had a grand time claiming, only half-jokingly, that the set helped provide a sense of reality to the show’s plotlines.
“That’s the point, isn’t it?” he says. “That’s what happened [in the script] with Wes Bentley’s character chasing after the blond kids. The set’s four halls [were]` essentially identical, so it was disorienting, and some people could never get the hang of it. They were in a constant state of confusion about what door to use to get out.”
“Hotel” has perhaps been the most gruesome of the horror anthology’s five seasons. Worthington says that putting the story in a hotel, a setting with which everyone is familiar, was Murphy’s way of upping the fear factor. “I think he was doing that consciously and stylistically,” he says.
But creating a setting for dread is all in a day’s work for a horror production designer. “For [the crew] it isn’t necessarily gruesome,” he says. “It’s fake blood. You don’t connect with the gruesomeness of it.”
Unless you happen to come upon a hot set and see “blood” all over a bed or a headboard or on the walls.
“If no actors are there, it really does look like a crime scene,” Worthington says. “It implies this horrible act, but you don’t see any bodies. Those moments [can feel] a little startling.”