Movie review: Bad Times at the El Royale

21 Dec 2018 / 10:52 H.

THIS is one movie which starts beautifully and brilliantly, and where the actors all performed their roles convincingly. Unfortunately, the poor pacing turns it into a long, drawn-out affair.

Slowly, you begin to lose interest in the story and the characters. Boredom, and even frustration, creep in.

I love director Goddard’s previous film, The Cabin in the Woods, which centres on five teenagers heading off for a weekend at a secluded cabin in the woods and who end up having to face something sinister.

One can see some similarities with his new film, Bad Times at the El Royale, which shows four people booking into a nearly secluded hotel, and something sinister happening.

However, this is where the similarities end. The Cabin in the Woods is a far more interesting and captivating film compared to this movie.

Bad Times at the El Royale starts with an ageing priest suffering from early onset dementia (Jeff Bridges), a struggling singer (Cynthia Erivo), a talkative salesman (Jon Hamm) and an unfriendly young hippie (Dakota Johnson) who check into the El Royale, a rundown motel with a dark past, managed by a single concierge (Lewis Pullman).

Without spoiling your fun, all I can say is that all four guests harbour dark secrets. When their lives intertwine that day, it leads to a kidnapping, and murder.

Goddard has done a great job introducing us to the characters and the difficult situations they are in. Bridges is especially convincing as the ageing priest who is trying hard to remember his past.

But it is Chris Hemsworth who manages to steal the show, with his performance as charismatic cult leader Billy Lee, even though he only appears halfway through the film showing off his well-sculpted abs.

Perhaps, Hemsworth should consider playing more villainous roles, instead of hero types like Thor.

But these are about the only few bright spots in this film, which goes to show that something which starts beautifully may not end beautifully.

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