Movie review: Bad Times at the El Royale

Publish Date
Monday, 22 October 2018, 9:32AM

By: Dominic Corry

A strong cast helps this Tarantino-esque thriller patch over its more disappointing qualities.

One afternoon in 1969, several characters with initially undetermined origins arrive at the titular hotel. There's a salesman, a priest, a flower child and her younger companion, and a soul singer.

As dutifully and repeatedly explained by the twitchy young hotel manager, the El Royale sits abreast the dividing line between the states of California and Nevada.

The backstories then begin to roll out and peril soon infuses the scenario as the secrets of the El Royale come to light via overlapping timelines. Then Chris Hemsworth shows up and the Bad Times truly get underway.

Knowledge of writer/director Drew Goddard's high concept-heavy resume (he wrote and directed the twisty, 2012 cult classic The Cabin In The Woods, and wrote monster smash Cloverfield) provokes genre expectations the film doesn't deliver on.

And though we shouldn't judge stories on what their creators have done before, Bad Times at the El Royale overtly teases revelations of a grandiose quality that never come to pass.

This is most evinced by the El Royale's geographic uniqueness, an intriguing detail that amounts to nothing in particular. That said, the hotel itself is a marvel of production design.

It's a stylish film with an attractive cast, I just wish there was a little more to it.

Jeff Bridges, Chris Hemsworth, Dakota Johnson

Drew Goddard

Running time:
141 mins

R16 (Violence & offensive language)

Plenty to enjoy, but less than the sum of its parts. 3/5

This article was first published on and is republished here with permission.

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