Movie BAD TIMES AT THE EL ROYALE Review: It Moves Back To The 90s

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Movie BAD TIMES AT THE EL ROYALE review  -  Photo credit: wallpapermaiden.comEdition by Amber255 via

Just watched mystery drama  BAD TIMES AT THE EL ROYALE, and I have to say I do not regret spending 2.5 hours in a cinema watching this movie. The new drama of director Drew Goddard is a rare contemporary cinema project that did not reveal its cards completely before the premiere, so viewers who go to the cinema do not really know what they can expect. 

Many critics consider Drew Goddard's new work to be one of the most intricate manslaughter films full of engaging dialogues. It's very similar to films of famous director, screenwriter, and actor Quentin Tarantino who divides the films into sections, presented unexpected deaths, time lapses, old soundtrack, and a great cast of actors.

An audacious and unwieldy cocktail, Bad Times at the El Royale ultimately sings where it counts. - Mike Mazzanti, CineVue 

Drew Goddard has not made many films, so it is really difficult to rate him as a director. True, he has directed only one movie - The Cabin in the Woods, which in my opinion was one of the most inventive horror genre projects of 2012. As a scriptwriter, he is really famous in Hollywood. Therefore, I was completely calm waiting for this new director's work. I knew that there was no need to worry about the movie's story that was definitely worth paying attention to. 

It's a stylish and unpredictable movie. The film retains a brutal, yet the black humor style, which allows the author to skillfully play with the emotions of the audience. 

BAD TIMES AT THE EL ROYALE, Trailer - Video credit: 20th Century FOX via

The Short Story Of The Movie 

The story begins at the boundaries of two states, California and Nevada, at the car park of the hotel, where mysterious guests came to the forgotten hotel one after the other.  Some strangers meet on the shores of Tahoe Lake, in an old-fashioned Hotel El Royale having dark past. In the old days, this place was enjoyed by the rich and prosperous, but now the visitors are too various.

Each of hotel guests carries with him a very dark secret, and when all of them meet together under one roof, a breathtaking night comes on full of unexpectedness.

A group of strangers falls in the wrong time and in an inappropriate place. El Royale Hotel got some guests in one day - a priest, a singer, a vacuum cleaners dealer, and a mysterious girl without a name. They do not even realize that this day, which started so simply, will become fatal to each one of them.

The situation gets complicated when in the El Royal appears ominous, but the charming leader of the cult, who wants to get everything. 


 Mystery drama BAD TIMES AT THE EL ROYALE  -  Photo credit:

Seven strangers, each with a secret to bury, meet at Lake Tahoe’s El Royale, a rundown hotel with a dark past. Over the course of one fateful night, everyone will have a last shot at redemption…before everything goes to hell. 


Actually, it's impossible to tell more about script without giving you spoilers, so just watch it!

The Content Of the Movie

It's not a recreation of the old story, a bait for the awards, or as it's currently popular, the prehistory of the main hero. The writer and director, Drew Goddard does not follow the established rules in Hollywood, because the main pleasure comes not from the description of the film or the details revealed in the trailer. Actually, the trailer says nothing you could expect. Director simply kept intrigue to the moment when you start watching the film. 

Not surprisingly, like many psychological films, the thriller BAD TIMES AT THE EL ROYALE to the end is annoying with mysterious details and everything becomes clear only at the very end. 

The script in this movie is fantastic. Watching the film you feel like it's a movie directed by Quentin Tarantino. I'm not kidding. In places, everything has reminded me of the manner of The Hateful Eight, which is why it's fun and strange because it's not Quentin's film.


Jeff Bridges, Jon Hamm, and Cynthia Erivo in BAD TIMES AT THE EL ROYALE  - Photo credit:

The similarities to the movie I have mentioned are obvious, as there are not only clear mini-stories to bring to the main characters but also the very vague future of those heroes. We do not know until the very end of the movie, who will be alive, who will get the crushed brain, and who will become a real hero. And that's why it is really interesting to watch the unbelievable situation of the main heroes.

I mentioned Quentin Tarantino not because I wanted to compare the similarity of the way of developing the storyline in these films, but also because that his splendid films and this thriller are united by two other aspects: charismatic characters and their conversations about everything, but also about nothing.

We have a lot of such actors in this film. One can even say that all the characters appearing here are interesting and very revealing as personalities. Each character is incredibly fun, and the mysteries and interlacing threads coming from their stories push the whole line of the film forward.

 The director has played well with the main actors' cards - when the axis of the movie seemed to be a neurotic vacuum dealer, sudden the action is changing, and the film's wheel is in the other actor's hands. 


Movie BAD TIMES AT THE EL ROYALE review  - Photo credit:

What is the main character in the movie? I think the hotel in which is going scary things. And Father Flynn, singer Darlene, Emily, and vacuum cleaner dealer are just guests of this hotel who have changed the previous visitors.  Of course, each of my listed characters has some kind of secrets that are revealed in the film. Then everything becomes clear who and why.

In addition to these actors, the leader of the sect Billy gets a lot of attention on the second part of the film. This is an unstable mental person who is able to turn the weaker people his own slaves. And he really scares as soon as he appears on the screen. For me personally, he and the hotel worker Miles became the very best characters in the film.  I will not disclose why, but you will see how unpredictable guys they are 30 minutes before the end of the movie.


Chris Hemsworth in BAD TIMES AT THE EL ROYALEPhoto credit:

I could only mention one minus that it is an excessively long film that starts to tease about half an hour before the end because of the prolonged act and the monotonous dynamics of the narrated story. The brief flashbacks of the heroes, and more precisely their amount, began to annoy - they were simply too many. And the wandering between past stories of the actors has made me feel like in an unstable carousel - getting into one part, fast move back and jump to the next part without fully surviving the previous one.

However, I have to note that finale scenes were consistent, attracting, and redeemed all the story's flaws. It is precisely in the last scenes all bloody and brutal beauty of history unfolds. So, on the whole, it's really a good enough cinematic entertainment project that does not cause any negative emotions.

Although I really doubt if I will watch it again for the second time in the near future. Sometimes it happens that you can watch good movies many times, and sometimes one review is enough.  Exactly such is the new film by Drew Goddard.

Chris Hemsworth & Dakota Johnson Interview - Photo credit: iHollywoodTV via Youtube

The Technical Side Of The Movie

First of all, I must commend the work of the operator Seamus McGarvey nominated with two Oscars. Thanks to him, the film also acquired completely different colors, which made the story even more puzzling.  A few maneuvers in rooms with the camera, not wanting to reveal all the truth that was hidden between the four walls shown, were just perfectly implemented. 

The music is simply great, every song and musical background is timely and in place on the plot, which only further strengthened the mood of the film. Much attention in the film is paid to the music, and it gives a dose of extra pleasure during the preview.


Mystery drama BAD TIMES AT THE EL ROYALE  - Photo credit:

It's a very good set of great songs that you want to record and listen every time you are on the ride. Tommy Roe's Baby, I Love You, the hit of The Box Tops The Letter, and the great creation of Frankie Valli Can't Take My Eyes Off You featured among my favorites.

Sound editing in the movie is awesome. These shots at the finale of the movie sound very well, which make you even jump from surprise.

Video editing is also very well done for two reasons - the same locations of the action showed from the different perspectives, and because of the uncertainty that surrounded this story for almost two hours of the preview.


Hollywood film BAD TIMES AT THE EL ROYALE -  Photo credit:

The Collective work of the Actors

The most bright and famous Hollywood films' actors perform in the director Drew Goddard's mystery drama: Oscar winner Jeff Bridges, Chris Hemsworth, Jon Hamm, Dakota Johnson (Fifty Shades of Grey) and others.

There is not much what to say about the actors - they were all wonderful and worthy of applause for their compelling and interesting characters. Jeff Bridges, as always, radiates charisma.

The most laud ovations deserve the actor Chris Hemsworth, who embodied Billy Lee - a sociopath and a prototype of Charles Manson. I really did not expect, but undoubtedly he succeeded to perform this role.


Chris Hemsworth in BAD TIMES AT THE EL ROYALE - Photo credit:

I would also exclude Jon Hamm, Lewis Pullman, and Cynthia Erivo, who also made a great contribution to the storyline of this movie. The latter two ones made very memorable roles that will surely be noticed, and in the future, these talented people will have even more opportunities to appear on the big screen. Lewis Pullman, among other things, is the son of famous Bill Pullman. He performed the role of the hotel employee, Miles. With this role, he coped simply perfect; it's emotional and charismatic character, which is presented in the film as the object of human weaknesses and sins.

Even the division of the hotel can be tied to the choice between good and evil, which is further developed after the arrival of Billy Lee. True, he went to the hotel by the middle of the border as if he had not chosen either the good or the bad side. I can not reveal more details because it would be a spoiler, but when you see the movie, you will really understand what I have in mind here.


Entertainment - Movie BAD TIMES AT THE EL ROYALE   - Photo credit:

The film's cast of actors is very good, and each of them succeeded in creating a strong story with a deep sense. All actors are exclusive and interesting, and it's great that their development does not stop at the time of the whole film, as well as the strong chemistry of the actors between them.

On The Final Note

Mystery drama BAD TIMES AT THE EL ROYALE is very stylish due to technical aspects and unpredictable moves. It's an attractive film project that charms its viewers by highly memorable characters, interesting dialogues, and a well-suited storyline that attracts you to the final titles.

Such a cast of actors and a strong creative group have created a tense, not boring, and full of surprise film that really deserves at least one of your previews. True, after the movie, I did not feel such a powerful wow effect as after watching Q. Tarantino's films. However, the Bad Times in the El Royale is really very interesting experience in the cinema.


At the premiere of Bad Times at the El Royale  -  Photo credit:

I love films in which characters and their motifs unfold gradually and from different sides when the viewer sees that the hero definitely has a double bottom, but at once does not understand what exactly. A droplet of psychology, a lot of weapons, and the atmosphere of a slightly crazy house - welcome to the Hotel El Royal!

If you love American films about 60-70 years, ambiguous characters, a confusing storyline, intrigue, a little-exaggerated attitude to life, death, crime - you should like this film.

My rating: 8.0/10
Rotten Tomatoes: 73% ( of 100)
Critics average: 76/100
IMDb: 7.4/10



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