Bad Times at the El Royale Review: Criminally Good!

Updated: Sep 25, 2021


You can never go wrong with a good mystery. The concepts of criminal acts and dark secrets have managed to enthrall in a variety of mediums. In the case of movies criminal acts can play a vital role in a multitude genres; whether it is a murder mystery or a heist film. This is evident in the latest thriller hitting the big screen: Bad Times at the El Royale. Directed and written by Drew Goddard Bad Time at the El Royale takes the concept of strangers in untimely circumstances and brings a sense of style to the idea- which was definitely apparent in the film’s trailers. That was all the more reason for me to check out this new crime thriller. So on a cloudy night I checked out this mysterious movie, and what a great time Bad Time at the El Royale ended up being.


Bad Time at the El Royale tells the story of strangers coming together in an estranged motel. There each patron’s true intentions are brought to light as the group find themselves tangled within the mystery behind the El Royale. The plot of this thriller was an enticing experience. From its narrative to its twists the factors behind the story proved beneficial to the overall film. The only issue I had with the plot was its excessive delivery to the point where certain parts were seemingly padded for time. Aside from that the plot was quite thorough in its execution. There were many takeaways from this tale but the one thing that stood out to me was the overall conflict and how it was unraveled through circumstances oppose to being one big conspiracy. This point was but one of the factors that made this criminal tale both dynamic and refreshing.

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Equally as impressive was the movie’s cast. A cast of strangers is nothing new in this kind of film, and while this ensemble did not change the concept they certainly personified its effectiveness. Whether it was Dock O’Kelly (Jeff Bridges),Emily Summerspring (Dakota Johnson)Dwight Broadbeck (Jon Hamm) or Darlene Sweet (Cynthia Erivo) each character brought something to the table even if certain players had limited screen time. The cast had its share of surprises such as the direction of Miles Miller (Lewis Pullman) which was unexpected; and Chris Hemsworth’s performance as the cult leader Billy Lee was simply menacing-which was refreshing to see out of the actor. Some characters could get lost in the shuffle but they managed to work thanks to the solid performances from the entire group which made this cast of strangers one of the best ensembles that I have seen all year.


When it came to the film’s technical elements Bad Times at the El Royale was subtle in this areas, but by no means did this hurt the film’s presentation. The cinematography was efficient as the color matched story’s time period and the lighting work to the gritty nature behind the film. The music, both the score and the pop music, was thematic as it fit the movie’s concept quite well. In fact the pop music was used adequately as they made sense for the time period and enhanced the scenes themselves. These factors created an atmosphere that was not only stylish but thrilling, and given the nature behind this film this direction was perfect.

Bad Times at The El Royale is criminally good. While some areas could have bit stronger in their delivery it did not take away from this thriller’s impressive merits such as its enthralling story and its strong ensemble. With every twist and turns Bad Times at the El Royale proved to be a thriller that stood out from the rest and in my opinion it is a must see film for the year.

4.5 hats

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