• 03 Nov - 09 Nov, 2018
  • Farheen Jawaid
  • Reviews

A near ruined and empty motel, El Royale had seen a bevy of stars in the 1950’s Golden Age. Now in 1969, it has a fist full of guests, and as the title suggests, none of them can talk good about the time they had at the El Royale.

Stylishly made, but overly long, Bad Times at the El Royale, is writer-director Drew Goddard’s return to the directorial seat after The Cabin in the Woods (as writer, he had written Cloverfield, World War Z and The Martian in the meantime). Goddard brings together a stellar cast of actors and gives them droning build-up dialogues and scenes, wrapping it all in a surprise, which isn’t really surprising. This gives almost every actor individual time in the spotlight within a nice ensemble, but as a consequence, stretches scenes and drags the story through obvious twists and turns.

The plot introduces the El Royale one evening, where the main cast comes to stay. The place is almost abandoned, creepy and nefarious-looking, radiating a feeling akin to Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho. Its sole employee is Miles Miller (Lewis Pullman), a jittery, loner who looks like he might have been cooped up in this place way to long for his own good.

The tenants that come to stay are: Dwight, a salesman (Jon Hamm) who talks are tips over with bigotry; Father Flynn (Jeff Bridges) a priest, who is losing his memory; Darlene (Cynthia Erivo), a struggling singer; Emily (Dakota Johnson), a protective sister; Rose (Cailee Spaeny) a hostage; and Billy (Chris Hemsworth), a charismatic opened-shirt-wearing cult leader.

At times, a finely crafted drama/thriller, Bad Times at the El Royale develops its characters heavily in the first three quarter of the movie, with numerous flashback sequences and inter-character interactions. Soon the people staying at the motel realise that creepy and bizarre is the normal at El Royale, and unsurprising, so that the same applies to the people who have gathered together for the evening.

The movie pays homage to Tarantino and his movies, and in turns pays homage to the movies of 60s and 70s. Bad Timescould have been tighter and a better attention holder if it was shorter. What it is, is a good movie with a lot of interesting things and depth that loses a lot of its steam before the climax.