Bad Times at the El Royale (DVD) – Movie Review
Follow Genre: Crime, Drama, Mystery
Director: Drew Goddard
Distributor: 20th Century FOX
Duration: 141 minutes

Bad Times at the El Royale (DVD) – Movie Review

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(6 votes)
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Rating: 10.0/10 (6 votes cast)

A priest, a salesman, a hippie and a mysterious black woman walk into a hotel, could be the perfect intro of a dirty joke, but it’s actually the plot of this film. Bad Times at the El Royal involves seemingly ordinary people, who book a room at a rundown hotel and builds further upon this idea. We were intrigued, but we wondered if the plot could actually keep us interested for the movie’s duration which spans over two hours. Boy-oh-boy, were we in for a brutal and surprising ride.

There is no indication in what time period the movie plays itself out, but as we see Nixon on television, we assume it’s a movie that situates itself in the 70s. A priest by the name of Daniel Flynn (Jeff Bridges) comes across a black woman by the name of Darlene Sweet (Cynthia Erivo) at the parking lot of a hotel, that once was the meeting place for big officials, but sadly it lost its former glory and is now a cheap hotel that just happens to lie on the border of two states, having rooms in each of said states. When entering the hotel, they meet with a very annoying and hyperactive salesman, Laramie Seymour Sullivan (Jon Hamm), who comes across as a racist and entitled prick. After a while the current caretaker of the hotel shows up, Miles Miller (Lewis Pullman), who seems quite disorientated and is also quite worried to see a priest among his guests. The reason why is quite unclear, but the rest of the story will tell. When Emily Summerspring (Dakota Johnson), a ‘hippie’, eventually walks in the door as well, all the guests for this night have arrived. All value their privacy, all seem to be more than they’re letting on. Before long, all will be tied together, and will have to see if they make it until the next morning, after one event starts a chain reaction of many.

The flow of the movie is not exactly what you’d expect after a few minutes in. You’ll often see the same scenes again, albeit from a different perspective, e.g. one of the other characters. You’ll also see the story behind everyone that books a room in the hotel, which means that you’ll sometimes go back in time, to see what someone is doing in their room, while the story of another character has already been told. Overall this formula works great, and it allows a proper introduction to be held for each character, making them all equal in importance. The movie has its fair share of twists and turns and many surprises, which drive you to the edge of your seat, sometimes presenting you with the unexpected, which is why this movie is a very strong piece of moviemaking.

It has to be said that the acting performances in this movie might just be one of the best we have seen during the last few years. The cast is not only impressive, they all make their unique characters come to life, after only mere moments in the story. Jeff Bridges is one of those actors that truly shines when playing a somewhat peculiar character. Dakota Johnson, Cynthia Erivo and Cailee Spaeny might all have different experience when it comes to their portfolio, they are very interesting leading ladies in this movie. While all of their characters are completely different, they set the tone for the biggest part of the film. Chris Hemsworth steps away from his otherwise righteous roles, by playing a late crasher to the hotel ‘party’ that has formed during the first half of the movie, creating yet another interesting persona that goes hand in hand with all the craziness that happens throughout the movie. Jon Hamm plays a mildly annoying salesman, who clearly has a lot to hide, and he surprises us quite quickly when the story is still getting started. Last but not least there is the very interesting performance by Lewis Pullman, who, yet again, is more than meets the eye. All characters have a certain persona they’re playing, while actually being something completely different. While acting, they act like they’re someone else than the character they actually are, which is a very interesting concept when all the characters in the movie are like this.

The DVD edition of Bad Times at the El Royale comes with only a few extras, but the making of feature is quite long, as it spans over 27 minutes. You’ll get a proper making of, if you wonder how some of the movie’s scenes were created. Other than that, there’s a simple picture gallery to browse through, which will give you a few minutes of extra content.


Bad Times at the El Royale seemingly looks like a normal movie, without that much going on when reading the description. Oddly enough, before we knew it, we were enthralled by a movie that surprised us at every possible opportunity. The character development is nicely executed and in terms of action, prepare for some very brutal scenes. If you’re looking for a great mystery story that has a whole lot of aces up its sleeve, then you’ll certainly have a blast with this one. The only thing is that this movie might just be a one-trick pony.

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Rating: 10.0/10 (6 votes cast)
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Bad Times at the El Royale (DVD) - Movie Review, 10.0 out of 10 based on 6 ratings

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