Quick Takes – “Bad Times at the El Royale” (2018)

Bad Times at the El Royale (2018) 20th Century Fox

I thought this was a fun mystery/drama with strong elements of suspense. It’s written and directed by Drew Goddard. It also delivers a fantastic ensemble cast with names like Jeff Bridges, Dakota Johnson, Chris Hemsworth, Jon Hamm, Cynthia Erivo and others. I’d give it 90% overall on my entertainment meter. The multi-layered story follows a single night at the remote hotel the El Royale. Guests begin to arrive with their own secrets, and as their paths begin to cross things being to spiral out of control until all hell breaks loose.

Films like these may not be for everyone. It tells the story of the same night through the various perspectives of each character and as the film progresses, they begin to overlap. This approach fills in pieces of the mystery nicely in my opinion. But the organization could feel choppy to some. I however thought it was nicely organized. The way each story-line is not only explored, but also when each character’s story was told, felt nicely timed to maintain solid intrigue. It had me continually guessing what would happen as the different pieces of the story begin to connect and I loved the tension it built.

Something else that complemented the story was the collection of eccentric character personalities. There is a backdrop to each of them to provide motivation for their actions. Not all are as developed as others, but I thought there was more than enough personality written for the roles to give the performers some foundation to work with. Some characters are more important to the story than others as well, but I still felt that each one did have intent for being there to begin with. Plus the blend of different personalities and the unknowns of their history routinely had my curiosity. Who is good? Who is bad? Who can you trust? Who can you not?

None of the characters felt disposable and it added to the intensity of many scenes as things unfold without a true star to focus on. The performances across the board were excellent and the chemistry between them brought a level of realism to the various relationship dynamics. Daniels, Hemsworth, and Erivo command their scenes. It was eerie, haunting at times, and even grimly comical during others. It does drag a little bit early on in the third-act but the run-time isn’t wasted as characters are given time to evolve with satisfying mystery being the by-product.

Bad Times at the El Royale - 4
Bad Times at the El Royale (2018) 20th Century Fox