Early 1970s. Four strangers check in at the El Royale Hotel. The hotel is deserted, staffed by a single desk clerk. Some of the new guests' reasons for being there are less than innocent and some are not who they appear to be.
Six strangers, (Jeff Bridges, Cynthia Erivo, Dakota Johnson, Jon Hamm, Cailee Spaeny and Lewis Pullman) each with their own secrets, meet at the El Royale hotel of Lake Tahoe. Taking place over one night, alliances are made and secrets are revealed.
All the cast - and writer-director Drew Goddard - took a pay cut in order to get the film made. See more »
The presidential news conference seen on the lobby television places the action during late January of 1969. That was in the middle of a record winter for snowfall in the area where the hotel is said to be located, yet there is no snow on the ground. Lows that night in Reno were below freezing, yet it rains in the nearby mountains in the film. See more »
An overlong, pretentious homage to Agatha Christie (Ten Little Indians) Steven King (The Shining) and the TV film Helter Skelter, "Bad Times at the El Royal" is a generally tedious, disappointing, and ultimately gory portrayal of "unlikable people acting badly," my personal worst form of cinema.
Individual performances by Jeff Bridges, Cynthia Erivo, Dakota Johnson, and Jon Hammx are brilliant, and some production values are excellent, but many of the quick cuts between past, present, future, and contemporaneous events are ill-conceived and anachronisms abound. Why are 1960s songs on a Juke box played on 78rpm records? Why is an impoverished singer driving a mint-condition classic 1951 Studebaker in the 1970s?
Evidently filmed in British Columbia, "Bad Times" so far detached from objective reality as to be allegorical, if not incredible - requiring far too much suspension of disbelief and tolerance of gore to be enjoyable.
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