'Bad Times at the El Royale' is visually stunning edge-of-your-seat thriller

Anchored be great performances by star-studded cast

October 4, 2018
Jon Hamm stars in Twentieth Century Fox’s BAD TIMES AT THE EL ROYAL Addtl. Info  Photo Credit: Kimberley French; TM & © 2018 Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation. All Rights Reserved. Not for sale or duplication.

Credit: Kimberley French; TM & © 2018 Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation

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I started off thinking 'Bad Times at the El Royale' was going to be like an early Quentin Tarantino film called ‘Four Rooms,’ but then the movie did its own thing.

Starring Job Hamm, Jeff Bridges, Chris Hemsworth, Dakota Johnson, Lewis Pullman, Cynthia Erivo, and Cailee Spaeny, this cast is star-studded. I won't spoil anything, but just letting you know that not all of them survive the night.

The movie's plot gets complicated, but the simple tale is that several strangers share one night at the El Royale, and their stories all come together in the end when they realize that the hotel has its own secrets.

'Bad Times at the El Royale' tricks you into thinking it'll be a Tarantino knock-off, but its really not. There's the unique individuality of the seven characters that really make the film stand out.

There's also the uniqueness of the hotel itself, a novelty that sits in Tahoe on the border of California and Nevada. While a majority of the guests choose rooms (for $8 a night! ... this is set in the 70s by the way) in Nevada, the film's climax takes place in the main lobby area where the two states are split.

Gambling ... or no gambling? Liquor ... or no liquor? That's some of the many choices you have when you're choosing between the two states.

Visually, 'El Royale' is also really cool. The colors of the hotel, the duality of California and Nevada. The cinematography really could be heralded a lot more if not for such an intriguing story line. It makes you appreciate the movie as a whole that much more.

The movie has just enough tension to enjoy it as a thriller, and just enough secrets to call it a mystery.

'El Royale' has amazing pacing. Some critics may think its a little slow, but I was on the edge of my seat for a good portion of the second half when Chris Hemsworth's chracter appeared.

 L-R: Jon Hamm, Jeff Bridges, and Cynthia Erivo star in Twentieth Century Fox’s BAD TIMES AT THE EL ROYAL. Addtl. Info  Photo Credit: Kimberley French. TM & © 2018 Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation. All Rights Reserved. Not for sale or duplication.
Kimberley French. TM & © 2018 Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation

Jeff Bridges also gives a pretty great performance as ... well I'll leave the mystery of his chracter up to you.

The only bad thing I have to say is that there were not as many twists as I would’ve hoped for! Going in not knowing a lot, I was surprised that I predicted a little bit of the ending.

I enjoyed it, though! And you will too if you like thrillers that keep you guessing. Look for context clues! There's a lot going on, but if you focus on the right characters (or hotel guests), you might figure out the puzzle before the end!

One last note - the soundtrack and the score are crazy good in 'El Royale'! If you enjoy the soulful music of the 60s and 70s, just wait until you hear Cynthia Erivo's rendition of an Isley Brothers classic.

Ben at the Box Office Rating: 4 out of 5 Popcorn Buckets