Bad Times at the El Royale Review

Starring: Chris Hemsworth, Dakota Johnson, Jon Hamm, Jeff Bridges, Lewis Pullman, Cailee Spaeny, Cynthia Erivo

Director: Drew Goddard

Release date: 12th October 2018


A man enters a hotel room and not long after is brutally murdered. Ten years later, it is 1969 and we’re back at the same hotel, the El Royale. The hotel is unusual and unique in the fact that it straddles the border between Nevada and California; half in one state, half in the other. Guests slowly begin to arrive; a priest, a wiley vacuum cleaner salesman, a singer and a mysterious girl with no name. Each one has their own story and is there for a particular purpose. Unfortunately, things are not all they seem for this unassuming bunch of people, and it’s not long before things take a bizarre and shocking twist…

A story of hidden truths and secrets, ‘Bad Times at the El Royale’ is a visual rollercoaster from the moment it begins. The action cuts between the past and present day (1969) for pretty much all of the characters in the story and we are shown each of them’s back story as the film progresses. Each one has their own dark past and sadly for them, the hotel does not seem to be a place where you can visit and relax or lay low.


Playing out in a bit of a Tarantino-esque style, there is a lot of bloodshed and violence between the travellers, leading to a massive stand-off. Who will be left standing by the days end is anyone’s guess. Then there’s the El Royale itself. It’s not your everyday hotel; secrets hide behind each crack, crevice and innocent looking mirror.

Rated a 16 because of the graphic violence and running for 141m, it’s a movie that drags on a bit with all the too-ing and fro-ing between character stories, and this is what makes the movie unfortunately feel overly long in places. Saying that though, it really is an enjoyable movie with lots of surprises and then there’s the fact that no-one in the story seems to be who they say they are.


The casting on this is pretty epic with the likes of Jeff Bridges (Hell or High Water, The Big Lebowski, The Fisher King), Chris Hemsworth (Avengers, Thor) and Jon Hamm (Mad Men, Toast of London). They all really ‘own’ their individual characters and their traits. Chris Hemsworth, even though he is pretty much shirtless for his whole time on screen, actually plays a baddie pretty well, with his character of Billy Lee being callous, seductive, charming and sly.

With its 16 certificate, this movie will probably appeal to people who like their movies to have a violent streak, but still appreciate a well told story. There’ll also probably be groups of women who just want to ogle Chris Hemsworth.

Intriguing characters and a great story make this one to watch.

Overall: 8.5/10

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