Bad Times at the El Royale Review: A Priest, a Singer and a Cult Leader Walk into a Hotel.

4 and a half stars
Drew Goddard is a fantastic writer, having many film credits to his name but only one directorial credit, this being The Cabin in the Woods.
Well, now he has two to his name as his latest film Bad Times at the El Royale has been released.
Upon seeing the trailer for this film I was very intrigued by it, although I will admit it showed too much.
Even coming in knowing a few things that were going to happen, however, I still had a blast with this movie.
The basic plot is that a bunch of wacky characters consisting of a priest, a singer, a salesman, a hippie, a psychopathic girl, a guilt ridden hotel employee and a sadistic cult leader all stay for the night in the dying out El Royale Hotel.
Each of them have their own secrets, some not being who they claim they are.
What follows is a series of choices between California and Nevada, good and evil and red and black that results in numerous intense twists and turns.
The acting across the board for this film is stellar with many of the actors including Jeff Bridges, Lewis Pullman and Chris Hemsworth (for the brief time he is in the film) giving knockout performances.
The real standout of the film though is Cynthia Erivo in her film debut as Darlene Sweet, the singer who gets roped in on Bridges’ Father Flynn’s secret plans.
Ervio not only provides great acting but a great voice as well with her singing being of importance to the film, even going on to provide a very tense scene.

Darlene Sweet
Cynthia Erivo does a fantastic job as Darlene Sweet, owning every scene she is in.

Along with the acting, the cinematography is amazing and created tension between characters and added new meaning to scenes.
About half-way through Bad Times at the El Royale I remembered the odd way the first shot of the film was composed and the meaning behind it, which was brilliant.
Seamus McGarvey did an amazing job with the film’s cinematography.
A lot of people are comparing this film to Quentin Tarantino’s work, which I can definitely see because this film reminded me a lot of The Hateful Eight.
However, even though it is reminiscent of Tarantino’s films, it is not dependent on them and stands alone as its own individual film.
The one issue I had was the flashbacks, which were sometimes very jarring.
This is especially apparent in the final act when one of these flashbacks interrupts an action sequence and it took a few minutes for me to adjust as things were explained.

Chris Hemsworth.jpg
The final act, initiated by the arrival of Chris Hemsworth’s charismatic cult leader Billy Lee, is interrupted by a flashback that briefly kills the momentum.

Still, this did not completely put me off as I was still enthralled with the arcs these flashbacks presented for the characters.
Overall, Bad Times at the El Royale was a fantastic film from Goddard that I had a ball with.
That being said the film will not be everyone’s taste with its slow pace, which I think it earns but others may not.
Either way, I still recommend you check it out to see if you like it or not.

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