First of all, this film has one of the best trailers of the year. It has an ensemble cast, and it is the best film of the year after The Quiet Place.
The El Royale is this hotel sitting smack on the middle of the state lines between Nevada and California. The line dividing the states can even be seen going right through the lobby. Guests can choose which state they want to have a room in, with California rooms costing one dollar more.
The film begins with an array of characters coming to stay at the El Royale. We see a salesman (Jon Hamm), a drifter (Dakota Johnson), a priest (Jeff Bridges), and a girl far from home (Cynthia Erivo). The story unfolds with vignettes of each character and how they were motivated to come to the hotel. Each role in this movie is worthy of a film of their own. Jeff Bridges and Cynthia Erivo outshine everyone else, which is hard to do with so much talent surrounding the production. Their story arc is the most endearing of them all. Cynthia Erivo was so good in fact that she’s now on my radar, and I’m sure she’s going to be offered a lot more work hereon. Her acting was second to her singing, and she can make a man cry with that voice. Cynthia was also the most level-headed character throughout the film. Like things go nuts, and she reacts the way we all would. Chris Hemsworth gives his best acting to date. And Bill Pullman’s son Lewis Pullman is the next Paul Dano regarding acting ability.
The director of Bad Times at the El Royale is Drew Goddard, who co-wrote and directed Cabin in the Woods. Cabin in the Woods flipped the stereotypes of horror movies and the self-aware nature of Wes Craven’s Scream to poke fun at the genre. Bad Times at the El Royale shares some similar sensibilities, but more to do with breaking expectations over humor. This second outing for Goddard shows that Cabin in the Woods was not a fluke. He has proven himself to be stylistic and a brilliant auteur twice now, so here’s to me looking forward to everything else he directs.
This film is excellent. It’s long at two hours and twenty minutes, yet the way we see the night play out through everyone’s point of view the film goes by like a breeze. If the bonkers nature in the third act of Cabin in the Woods turned you off it, I would still be inclined to recommend this to you because it’s not demons and monsters here. It is however crazy in the best way possible at times. Worst case you will have listened to a killer 60s soundtrack. Check it out!