Michelle Reynolds, Staff Writer
Seven strangers. One hotel. What could possibly go wrong? 20th Century Fox answers this with the wildly entertaining “Bad Times at the El Royale.”
In 1969, several strangers, most with a secret to hide, 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.
“Bad Times at the El Royale” follows a priest, a traveling salesman, a singer, a concierge, a young woman, a kidnapped girl and a cult leader. While this sounds like the setup of a corny joke, each character played an important role in unfolding the mysteriously crafted plot. Every character’s actions affected the others at the El Royale, somehow entangling them deeper into the delicious mess they created.
With so many characters, the movie runs the risk of having some underdeveloped personalities, but not in this case. All the characters were unique and complemented each other in the best way possible. Where one was sin, the other was pure. Where one was dark, the other was light. There were characters that made the audience laugh, cry, relate, root for and root against. Through the movie, we got to learn who they were, how they got to the hotel and their ambitions of what they want after the hotel. Not only were the characters well written, they were meticulously casted. This film starred A-list actors such as Jeff Bridges, Dakota Johnson, Jon Hamm, Nick Offerman and Chris Hemsworth.
At a 141-minute runtime, this movie utilized every minute. “Bad Times at the El Royale” will sink its cinematic teeth into you and will refuse to let go. Time will melt away as you anxiously perch yourself at the edge of your seat, wondering what will happen next. This is a signature style of the director, Drew Goddard, whose resume includes “Cabin in the Woods,” “Cloverfield,” and “Lost,” showing that he has a history of crafting mystery and suspense.
“Bad Times” advertised itself as a sharp movie and it did not disappoint. The way it was broken into “chapters” based on characters and the use of music and rhythm felt like fresh ideas in a Hollywood era bogged down by clichés. Even the setting was superb. Set in the fictional novelty hotel called the El Royale, customers can rent a room on either the Nevada or California side. The El Royale was once a favorite place amongst stars and celebrities but has slowed down since it lost its gambling license. The designers did a perfect job of showing the forsaken hotel, while also peeking into its vibrant past.
This R-rated movie did many things not common in other movies, but one of the most interesting is that it left questions unanswered. Usually this would bother audiences, but the questions they left didn’t make the plot feel incomplete. These unanswered questions felt purposeful, as if they were a technique used to get audiences invested. The movie’s spirit stays alive in the audience’s memory long after they finish the movie due to all the possible fan theories.
Audiences were allowed to check in at the fictional El Royale starting Oct. 12. This was a rare example of a movie that actually lives up to its trailer. It was sharp, witty, original and packed with twists and turns that left audiences gasping. With the ever growing mystery, twists, a gripping premise, intense characters and a fiery climax, “Bad Times at the El Royale” is anything but bad.