In a faded nightspot straddling the California / Nevada State line, three strangers vainly try to check in. As John Hamm’s smarmy vacuum cleaner salesman, Jeff Bridges’s wizened priest and Cynthis Eviro’s former singer look around the once opulent El Royale, it seems empty. However as more guests arrive they discover this former motel has even more secrets than the ones they’ve brought with them.
Director Drew Goddard’s neo-noir, mystery thriller is a slow burn of a movie…
Director Drew Goddard’s neo-noir, mystery thriller is a slow burn of a movie. At 141 minutes it certainly takes its time to unpeel the back stories of its characters. A heavier blade in the cutting room certainly would benefitted the available tension. That said, as a story and on the whole, this movie hangs together well with a few genuinely interesting performances and casting-against-type choices. None more so than in Cynthia Eviro and Chris Hemsworth. As the failed singer Darlene Sweet, Eviro brings an accessible believability to her character and an a capella singing voice that screams talent. Set against type, and shorn of his Thor costume, Chris Hemsworth also ditches his accent and nice guy like-ability. As the intentionally enigmatic Billy Lee, he brings a shaded inflection to his lines that hints at a broader acting range than his better-known Marvel superhero. However it is Lewis Pullman who saves the best for last in a side part that violently grows in stature.
In the end and in terms of comparison, ‘Bad Times at The El Royale’ is a natural companion piece to Quentin Tarantino’s ‘Hateful 8’. Whilst not brimming with Tarantino’s penchant for crackling dialogue, fans of claustrophobic drama will find much to enjoy here. Like other similar slow-burn thrillers, ‘Bad Times at The El Royale’ takes a while to get going but when it does ands the finale arrives, you’ll be glad you stayed the distance.