Bad Times at the El Royale

Film, Thriller
3 out of 5 stars
4 out of 5 stars
(1user review)
Bad Times at the El Royale

Time Out says

3 out of 5 stars

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. 


Release details

Release date:
Thursday October 11 2018
0 mins

Cast and crew

Drew Goddard
Drew Goddard
Jon Hamm
Dakota Johnson
Cynthia Erivo
Jeff Bridges
Chris Hemsworth

Users say (1)

4 out of 5 stars
1 person listening

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.