“Bad Times at the El Royale” Leads to Good Times for Audience

Ian Caffarel, Staff Writer

When viewing movies that are rather intense, there are some that can be expected to have intensity right off the bat. “Bad Times At the El Royale” is not an exception. It has the potential to draw a sizeable audience in it’s premiere weekend, on October 12.


The movie, written and directed by Drew Goddard (famous for “World War Z” and “The Martian,”) is about a group of unsuspecting guests at a hotel near Lake Tahoe, bisected by the state line between California and Nevada. It is filled with a powerful cast including Jeff Bridges, Cynthia Erivo, Dakota Johnson, Jon Hamm, Cailee Spaney, Lewis Pullman, and Chris Hemsworth.


The movie begins when a man stays in a suite at the hotel, pulls up some floorboards, hides a suitcase under it, puts everything back, and then a man walks up behind him with a shotgun and kills him.


Things cut to a decade later when Darlene Sweet (Erivo), a singer, Father Michael Flynn (Bridges), an old criminal disguised as a Catholic priest, and Seymour “Laramie” Sullivan (Hamm), a vacuum cleaner salesman, check in at the El Royale. They’re followed by a criminal, Emily Summerspring (Johnson), and her sister, Rose (Spaney). They are met by a young concierge, Miles Miller (Pullman,) who served in Vietnam. He talks to them about the hotel, then places them in their rooms.


The film then splits into multiple directions, from Sweet and Flynn in the bar, to Sullivan discovering unusual activity in the hotel, to the Summerspring sisters in their room. Then after the bar scene, everything converges again.


Sweet, Flynn, Miller, the Summerspring sisters, along with Billy Lee (Hemsworth,) a cult leader, start discussing things in the hotel’s bar. Everything that has been happening up to this point starts to collide, as a fight soon breaks out in the bar, with Lee getting shot, then Miller shooting Emily, and Rose, in retaliation, fatally stabbing him, before being shot by Flynn. Miller then confesses to Flynn that he has sinned, and receives forgiveness from the “priest” before dying. During the commotion, several decorative fires are knocked over; Sweet and Flynn barely have time to gather up the money and leave before the hotel burns. In Reno, Sweet begins performing “This Old Heart of Mine” at a casino, with Flynn watching, as the movie ends.


For those looking for an action-filled mystery movie, it is something to consider watching. I did not leave my seat for the 141-minute duration of the film, and neither will anyone in the audience. This was a movie that has some intensity right off the bat, and it only builds from there, coming out within the last 40 minutes. The movie is filled with unexpected twists and turns, from the shotgunning in the start, to Flynn being hit with a wine bottle, and everything in between. With reviews from Rotten Tomatoes pulling 78 percent, and it pulling in $11 million on opening weekend, audiences will have largely similar opinions on the film as well. All in all, “Bad Times at El Royal” will lead to good times for anyone wanting to see the film.