Circa 1968, several strangers, most with a secret to bury, meet by chance at Lake Tahoe's El Royale, a rundown hotel with a dark past. Over the course of one night, everyone will show their true colors - before everything goes to hell.
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In the late 1960s, an aging priest suffering from early onset dementia, a struggling African American female singer, a talkative salesman on vacation and an unfriendly young woman who may or may not be a hippie, arrive by chance on the same day at Lake Tahoe's "El Royale", a once glitzy but now rundown roadside motel lying on the very border between California and Nevada, and operated by a single troubled staff member who holds many dark secrets. Throughout the day, it becomes increasingly clear that almost no one there is exactly who they seem, but things really go from bad to worse in the evening when heavy rain hits and someone much worse than those inside arrives to find "a friend" and bring hell to all those unlucky enough to be there at the time.Written by
I had the opportunity to see a sneak preview of 'Bad Times at the El Royale' thanks to the Alamo Drafthouse.
If you've seen 'Cabin in the Woods' then you have a good idea of what director Drew Goddard brings to the table. He brings that same sense of style and flare to the El Royale. The film looks great and hooks you in from the start. If I had to describe the feel, I'd say it's Tarantino meets Hitchcock. It takes its time introducing and fleshing out the characters while unfolding the plot in a way that's always interesting. The revelations are put together with a ton of craft and it has a great mix of dark comedy. A little long towards the end but the pay off is worth it.
Speaking of characters, the cast is fantastic. Jon Hamm brings his 'Mad Men' charm along with a dash of great comedic timing. Jeff Bridges gives one of his best roles since 'True Grit' and he has great chemistry with Cynthia Erivo. Their scenes together are some of the best and this is sure to be a breakout role for her. Same goes for Lewis Pullman who plays the Hotel everything(you'll get the joke when you see it) as he delivers a purposefully awkward but strong character. Chris Hemsworth gives us something that we haven't seen from him before but the less said about that, the better. Dakota Johnson and Cailee Spaeny were a mixed bag for me. They had some great scenes but the characters were my least favorite.
Another star in the film is the perfect soundtrack. Not only because of the song choices themselves but also how they are intertwined with the flow and action of the scenes.
If you're looking for something fresh and different, this is one to check out as soon as possible. One of my favorites of the year. Its one that is difficult to review without giving away too much, so I'll just wrap this up. I look forward to watching it again.
8 out of 10.
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