Bad Times at the El Royale

by Zach Smith-Michaels


I love movies. If this surprises you, you clearly don’t know me. My love for film really took off when I was a junior in high school. I tried to watch every movie that was beloved. Eventually this led me to Quentin Tarantino, and that’s when I started to adore film. I also stumbled on movies like Snatch, Fight Club, Army of Darkness, and more cult classics. I came to love this Tarantino-esque genre…and Bad Times at the El Royale fits into this genre like a glove!

I’ve been a fan of Drew Goddard for a while, so I was obviously excited for this movie, but the ensemble cast seemed like the element that would make or break the film. Fortunately everyone KILLS it in this movie. These actors really bring these characters to life. I’ve been impressed with Jon Hamm for a while, and this film was no exception. Hamm doesn’t have very much to do in this movie, but he still brings that Hamm magic. Cynthia Erivo and Jeff Bridges have magnetically terrific chemistry. I feel like Erivo gives one of the best performances of the year. Dakota Johnson…this was the one I was nervous about. I’d never seen her in a movie, but I have seen those horrendousGrey Shades trailers. Johnson gives a career changing performance in this movie, and I’m excited to see about he future. All of the performances are truly great, but with this A list ensemble, Chris Hemsworth steals the show. Hemsworth has become an actor that I really respect, and this film made me love him even more.

Drew Goddard proves himself to be a terrific director, and reaffirms his screenwriting abilities. He really did a great job setting the pace and the tension for this film. This film is like a guitar string. It just keeps getting tighter and tighter, until eventually it snaps! By the time the guitar string snapped, I was glued to the edge of my seat! El Royale plays with it’s timeline a lot going back and forth in time, but the film never felt convoluted to me. When it comes to this films tension, you can tell that Goddard is bringing in a few beats from Cabin In The Woods and the Daredevil Netflix series. Due to the unpredictability of the plot, this film is filled with white knuckle tension!

I also couldn’t get enough of this films soundtrack, but it never became overbearing.

As far as issues, remember that guitar string analogy? Well, after the guitar string had totally snapped, the movie decided to back in the timeline. This scene was important, but I felt that it’s placement hurt that pace. Also, this film has a few plot points that didn’t really pay off, but that didn’t ruin my enjoyment of the film.

This movie is going to split fans right down the middle. I think that film fanatics like me are going to absolutely love this movie, but I know that the Honest Trailer/Cinema Sins audience is probably going to hate this movie due to a few unresolved plot points and the films similarity to a Tarantino flick. Yes. It’s quite obvious that Goddard was inspired by Tarantino, but this film doesn’t feel like it’s ripping off any of Tarantino’s film.

I highly suggest this movie. You may not love it, but I think that this film is worth that risk.