Bad Times At The El Royale

All roads lead here
All roads lead here


D: Drew Goddard

20th Century Fox/TSG (Drew Goddard & Jeremy Latcham)

USA 🇺🇸 2018

141 mins 


W: Drew Goddard

DP: Seamus McGarvey

Ed: Lisa Lassek

Mus: Michael Giacchino

PD: Martin Whist

Jeff Bridges (Father Daniel Flynn / Dock O'Kelly), Cynthia Erivo (Darlene Sweet), Dakota Johnson (Emily Summerspring), Cailey Spaeny (Rose Summerspring), Lewis Pullman (Miles Miller), Jon Hamm (Seymour Laramie Sullivan / Dwight Broadbeck), Chris Hemsworth (Billy Lee)

Agatha Christie meets Quentin Tarantino for this dark mystery-thriller, set at a seedy motel which straddles the California-Nevada border, where various characters spend the night during an undisclosed date in the late 1960's, and the timelines overlap and various events are seen from different perspectives as the film presents each character's backstory as separate chapters (rather than a traditional three act structure).

The ensemble cast here are simply excellent. Jeff Bridges, dependable as ever, is introduced as Father Flynn, a preacher with a memory problem. The second guest is Darlene Sweet (Cynthia Erivo), a struggling backup singer with dreams of fame. The two arrive at the hotel at the same time, and waiting in the lobby is Seymour Laramie Sullivan, an obnoxious vacuum cleaner salesman insistent on lodging in the motel's Honeymoon Suite. They're (eventually) met by shady concierge Miles Miller who almost immediately declares the El Royale "no place for a priest".  The fourth guest of the evening is mysterious hippy Emily Summerspring... and it's with her character's story that the events of the night begin to unfold, culminating in the introduction of Billy Ray (Chris Hemsworth), a Charles Manson-type cult leader with a taste for violence.

Critical reception for the film has been mixed, with many harshly dubbing it a knockoff Tarantino thriller, which I personally disagree with. It may have taken some inspiration from films like Pulp Fiction, but it certainly doesn't plagiarise them and has more than enough originality to stand on its own two feet. The script always keeps you guessing, the direction is stylish, the cast are great and the production design is amongst the best you'll see from 2018 releases. A tad too long, perhaps, although I really don't think there's a moment which could have been cut.

Most definitely worth checking in for.


Cynthia Erivo in Bad Times at the El Royale
Cynthia Erivo in Bad Times at the El Royale
Did You Know:
The El Royale is based on the famous Cal Neva Resort and Casino that was once owned by Frank Sinatra.