Rating – ★★★★
It’s a shame when you see a movie not get the recognition it deserves thanks to a lack of solid marketing, and that’s exactly the case with Drew Goddard’s latest picture. Not even making its budget back in cinema ticket sales, Bad Times at the El Royale looks to be a disaster, and if the trailer was anything to go by, that would make sense.
Marketed as a neo-noir, action heavy battle royale. Although that is essentially what the final product provides, Goddard’s brooding thriller is much smarter than just that. He offers a neatly woven script which is accentuated by its star-studded line-up.
John Hamm, Dakota Johnson and Jeff Bridges (to name a few) are visitors of the El Royale motel, which is located on the edge of both California and Nevada borders. What starts as a seemingly ordinary coincidence, quickly spirals into a web of lies, corruption and pure carnage. Every turn that is taken leads down a different path, making you change your thoughts not only on the final outcome, but also what’s to unfold in the very next scene.
Seamus McGarvey’s neon popping cinematography perfectly augments Goddard’s stylistic direction. With the visuals feeling more aesthetically pleasing to the darker tone laid out in the movies script.
Every now and then you’ll come across a film that feels like its reputation was highly undeserved. In 2018, Bad Times at the El Royale received that fate despite being a highlight in cinema for that year. It has a sluggish middle act that is bookended by a stellar, well-paced opening act and its rambunctious, wholly refreshing payoff.
Fun times are to be had at the El Royale, so it’s worth investing your time into it.