Bad Times at the El Royale sees Drew Goddard, the man behind The Cabin in the Woods, make an impressive return in a horror film which has it all. With the running time a hefty 2 hours and 21 minutes, there are plenty of thrilling moments to enjoy and admire.
The film, set in 1969, features the El Royale, a hotel that lies between California and Nevada—literally split between the two states. Like many hotels during that period, the El Royale is run down and has seen better days, and this has made it the perfect place for criminality to occur.
The film has the ideal mix of suspicious characters, money and gambling all involved. Initially, viewers may be expecting more gambling, especially considering the hotel’s location. The lack of gambling in the film doesn’t leave too big a gap, as present day audiences are more in tune with online gambling being offered by mFortune Mobile Casino and other world-renowned operators.
It’s the different characters in the movie which helps to make it what it is, with the film deploying flashbacks throughout. Laramie Seymour Sullivan is a salesman who’s turned up at the El Royale seeking out a specific room, Daniel Flynn is a priest who has a penchant for the hard stuff, Darlene Sweet is a singer on the lookout for a gig and there’s Emily Summerspring, too. The genius part where the characters are concerned is that nobody is as they seem.
Bad Times at the El Royale begins with a flashback of a bloodied man who is concealing duffel bags under the floorboards at the El Royale. He’s then gunned down by another man who arrives shortly after, but the killer has no knowledge of what his victim was up to, or the fact he had hidden the duffel bags under the floorboards. The movie then jumps forwards ten years.
Once each of the characters are shown to their respective rooms, this is where the movie really begins. Each character displays odd behavior, fitting for the rather odd hotel. There are secret tunnels and one-way mirrors in operation, leaving one of the guests to peer in on the others.
The movie advances into territory that sees the villain embark on a bloody mission, with a standoff plot ensuing. Things get extraordinarily tense at times, like when the villain tries to force Darlene, the singer who checked in earlier, to bet her life on a spin of a roulette wheel. The audience will be pleased with her brilliant response, “I’m bored of men like you.”
What Drew Goddard has done is bring a lot of smaller stories together that help to formulate the bigger picture. While each character is an individual with their own story and their own reason for being at the El Royale, their paths have all crossed for a larger reason, making the journey that much more (terrifyingly) enjoyable.