Every once in a while a movie comes along that draws you in without giving you any information in the previews. Well that’s exactly what we have here with Bad Times at the El Royale. The previews show a great cast with a cool 60’s atmosphere but not much in the way of plot. Now its true most movies try to keep the plot pretty wrapped up but in general you have a basic idea of what the movie is about before going to the theater. But in talking about this movie with friends and family I still literally had no idea what this movie was really about besides there are a bunch of strangers staying in a hotel. That is all and despite knowing almost nothing else about the movie I was still tremendously excited to see this one and couldn’t wait to get to the theater to check it out.
A lot of things to like about the second movie from director Drew Goddard (Cabin in the Woods). If you had seen his previous film then you know he has a unique style of story telling and you should be ready to expect the unexpected. The cast is very impressive here with a few standouts. Jeff Bridges is outstanding as Father Daniel Flynn, a forgetful priest. At this point in his career, Bridges is almost expected to turn out great performances so it shouldn’t surprise you when he delivers. Now what may surprise you is Chris Hemsworth as Billy Lee, a charismatic fellow who steals the scene whenever he is on screen. I have not seen Hemsworth deliver a performance quite like this one so far in his career. The remaining characters all bring their own intrigue and mystery to the entire roller coaster of a film. Another interesting thing about the El Royale is the cinematography. There are lots of unusual camera angles and scrolling views that help heighten the suspense. I also really enjoyed the set design of the hotel itself. It absolutely nailed the time period and really helps reel you into the feeling of being in 1969 (or somewhere there abouts).
While this movie is absolutely enjoyable it is not without its blemishes. I did feel that the movie dragged a bit through some scenes on its way to the 141 minute run time which can be a bit long for those with shorter attention spans. I also found myself wanting a little more background on a few characters. Additionally there are some branches of the plot that get mentioned and then stay unresolved. I didn’t find too much to complain about beyond those things but it indeed kept it from a perfect review.
In the end all you really want out of a movie theater trip is to be entertained and this movie surely does that much. If you are looking for a wild ride then sit down, strap in and let this one blow your hair back with a rousing 2 Apology effort from Drew Goddard. Definitely looking forward to more entries to his filmography. I would recommend checking this one out if you get the chance.