Film Review: BAD TIMES AT THE EL ROYALE (USA 2018) ***1/2

Bad Times at the El Royale Poster

Seven strangers, each with a secret to bury, meet at Lake Tahoe’s El Royale, a rundown hotel with a dark past. Over the course of one fateful night, everyone will have a last shot at redemption – before everything goes to hell.

From the music, songs and vintage cars, the film’s setting appears to be the 60’s – a time when political correctness are not in place.  This might explain the girl cat fight (for male chauvinist audiences to get off on) scene in the middle of the film – similar to the gypsy girl fight put on for the entertainment of 007 James Bond in Terence Young’s (Young a director who loves to put in cat fights in his films) FROM RUSSIA WITH LOVE.

The film arrives with quite the bit of hype that anything can happen and the film is quite the mind-f***.  That said, audiences will be pleased to note that they will not be disappointed.

The film involves seven strangers, each with a secret to bury, who meet at Lake Tahoe’s El Royale of the film’s title, a rundown hotel with a dark past. Over the course of one fateful night, everyone will have a last shot at redemption – before everything goes to hell.

The film begins with an unseen stranger renting a room at El Royale.  He removes the carpet and floorboards to hide a bag of loot before being blown (shot dead) away.  The film moves forwards 6 months with the arrival of the seven strangers.

First to arrive is Father Daniel Flynn (Jeff Bridges) entering the empty hotel foyer only to be greeted by vacuum cleaner salesman Sullivan (Jone Hamm) and backup Motown singer, Darlene Sweet (Cynthia Erivo).  They are eventually greeted by the desk clerk, Miles (Lewis Pullman – yes, Bill Pullman’s son).  Later arrivals include a bad ass female, Emily (Dakota Johnson) with her even more bad ass sister (Cailee Spaeny) in tow.  Every person has a secret and no one is who he or she seems.  Father Flynn is no priest.  Sullivan is no vacuum cleaner salesman and Miles is no ordinary hotel clerk either.  One by one, the guests are done off, pretty much as in Agatha Christie’s TEN LITTLE INDIANS but with a difference.  This is a bad ass fucked up movie and be prepared to jump  out of your seats.  Not once but may times.  Director Godard, who also wrote the script ensures that there are lots of surprises around every corner.  So, be a little patient as the film has a bit of a slow start.

There are a few segments that could have been left out like the politically incorrect cat fight scene, without much change in the story.

All the actors appear to be having fun, hamming up their roles, especially THOR star Chris Hemsworth (a regular in Godard films) playing the villain, Billy Lee.

For a 60’s setting, the atmosphere is well created and believable.  All details from wardrobe, vintage cars to music are in order.

The film contains a good satisfactory ending where the deserving characters get to live and the bad ass guys get their come-uppance.  BAD TIMES AT THE EL ROYALE should satisfy bad ass movie fans with bad ass entertainment, Tarantino/Rodriguez style.