Movie Review: Bad Times at the El Royale (2018)

I was gonna do a joke about a priest walking into a bar, but I couldn’t come up with a good punchline. So let’s just get into the review.

Ladies and gentlemen… “Bad Times at the El Royale”.

The late 1960s. On the border between California and Nevada lies the El Royale, a snazzy-looking motel. And on one fateful day, a group of strangers all decide to book rooms there, all of them carrying some secret. And we follow them as they get tangled up in the most insane night of their lives. The plot here jumps around a lot, partly in showing how all the characters got to the El Royale, and partly to show all the different perspectives on certain events that go down at the motel. And this could get messy and convoluted if put in the wrong hands. But I think that it was handled very well here. I like that they really took their time to tell this story. It’s intriguing, suspenseful, fun, pulpy, and just overall entertaining.

The characters here are colorful, unique, layered, flawed, and just overall really interesting. And that’s all you’ll get out of me. I won’t go any more in-depth on any of them, as that would be really tough without accidentally spoiling stuff. So let’s just list the cast. Jeff Bridges, Cynthia Erivo, Lewis Pullman, Jon Hamm, Dakota Johnson, Chris Hemsworth, Cailee Spaeny, all great in their respective roles.

The score for the movie was composed by Michael Giacchino, and it was really good. It does lean into the pulp angle I mentioned earlier, which really helps sell the movie’s vibe while still adding to the sense of tension and drama. There’s also a fair bit of licensed tracks used throughout, and not only are they really good on their own, but they also work incredibly well within their respective scenes.

“Bad Times at the El Royale” was written and directed by Drew Goddard, who I think did a great job with it. He gives the movie a very slick style that makes it feel somewhat unique, without sacrificing any of the pulpy suspense that is built up through the story, characters, and music. And the cinematography by Seamus McGarvey is pretty stellar, giving us some really great looking shots throughout the movie.

This movie has gotten some mixed reception. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 75% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 60/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 7,1/10.

“Bad Times at the El Royale” is something that I can easily tell will polarize audiences. But I thought it was great. It has a great plot, really good characters, great performances, great music, and great writing/directing/cinematography. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “Bad Times at the El Royale” is a 9,71/10. So it gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.

My review of “Bad Times at the El Royale” is now completed.

Good times, bad times, you know I had my share…