Bad Times at the El Royale
Written and Directed by: Drew Goddard
Starring: Jeff Bridges, Dakota Johnson, Chris Hemsworth, Jon Hamm, Lewis Pullman, Nick Offerman and Vesta Shears
Run Time: 2h 21min
Genre: Mystery, Thriller
4 Frames out of 5
By: Shari K. Green
You absolutely must get online and get your reservations for the El Royale tonight! This Tarantino style noir or ‘black’ film has dustings of Hitchcock and early Hollywood capers and mysteries. Don’t waste another moment reading about it. Just go. The trailer does a spectacular job of keeping certain plotlines a secret which is rare these days so if you were already interested by watching them, you haven’t seen anything yet.
The opening of the film declares why a certain character is at the hotel and what he’s searching for. ‘Bad Times at the El Royale,’ like similar films before it, allows us to get to know each of her other characters one by one. Little is revealed about them but as more people and circumstances crop up, with the use of flashbacks, you’re investigating the characters yourselves and learning more. Often, you’ll be surprised at what you see. A little warning to those who are faint of heart, there are several jump-scares that will leave you unsettled and anxious for what’s to come during the rest of the film. This is something I liked about Drew Goddard’s film ‘The Cabin in the Woods,’ too. He knows how to keep you sitting on the edge of your seat and he likes it.
The film’s two hours and 21 minutes are rather long but for the most part, the cast makes each minute count. And don’t ask me to pick who, out of this magnificent assembly of actors, is best. They were all outstanding! Okay, fine. If you’re going to twist my arm, I have to admit that I couldn’t take my eyes off Jeff Bridges. The man is unbelievable in this role. But I digress. Let’s get back to the length of the movie. Though a well-orchestrated film otherwise, where Goddard could have shaved off some time would have been by not having the characters discover things the audience has already seen through the eyes of several others before. That said, I’d see it again in a heartbeat. Let me tell you some about what to expect from your bi-state stay in the El Royale. The hotel sits on both Nevada and California and is split in half by a red line painted down the middle of the lobby. The hotel has hosted many performers of the stage and screen where gambling is allowed only on the Nevada side, obviously, but plenty of boozing and canoodling have happened on both. With the band of misfits joining us now, it certainly hasn’t been and still isn’t a virtuous place to stay. The hotel is very much a central figure of the film. It reveals and has as much personality as any of the others do.
Through Goddard’s clever and inventive script and exceedingly brilliant and vivid imagination, you get involved in their stories and grow to either love or hate them. The bellboy named Miles (played by Bill Pullman’s son) Lewis, is perhaps the most compelling by movies end, something not expected upon first meeting him. I don’t really want to introduce you to them or reveal too much so I’ll not be saying much more. You need to be sitting in the theatre watching, not reading about, why you need to see this. You’ll be sucked in right away with a very impressive and striking opening. The thrills, the wit, and the outlandish situations along with the players and the music that accompanies them will take you voluntarily to the end of your stay.