Bad Times at the El Royale
Time Out says
Drew Goddard heads from ‘Cabin in the Woods’ to a blood-splattered hotel by a lake and reinforcing his rep as an original storyteller in the process
Set in a neon-bathed Lake Tahoe hotel in 1969, this boldly original but frustrating noir is frontloaded with mysteries. What’s brought its four edgy guests to its doors? What’s the significance of the Nevada-California state line running smack down the middle? And why are the rooms bugged? You’d be giving it a fat zero on TripAdvisor – even before you tried getting the heroin-shooting bellhop to take your bags.
The pulp-staple guests include a salesman (Jon Hamm), a priest (Jeff Bridges), a mysterious dame (Dakota Johnson) and a lounge singer (breakout Brit Cynthia Erivo). At least, that’s who they claim to be. You don’t even need the Richard Nixon speeches blaring in the background to feel the fug of paranoia hanging over the group.
The set-up holds you in its grip, aided by the eye-candy production design. But as writer-director Drew Goddard peels away the layers, it gets all tangled up in its own metaphors. If these false-fronted characters – and the hotel itself – represent something bigger, even a baggy final act isn’t long enough to figure out quite what it is. As with his first directorial effort, ace meta-horror The Cabin in the Woods, he has a blast toying with genre expectations, although here the payoff is a lot less satisfying.
Cast and crew
Users say (1)
This is a Tarantino type format reminiscent of PULP FICTION meets THE HATEFUL EIGHT in a contained setting.
The film deals with America's sins of the past with moments of shocking bursts of violence in a very talkative film.
Like CABIN IN THE WOODS the El Royale setting has secretive back rooms and corridors to a wider conspiracy at play.
Regardless of the mixed reviews I ended up liking this movie. Can't wait to see what Tarantino does with ONCE UPON A TIME IN HOLLYWOOD and compare the two films.