IMDb Rating: 7.2/10
Genre: Crime, Drama, Mystery
Director: Drew Goddard
Release Date: 12 October 2018
Star Cast: Jeff Bridges, Cynthia Erivo, Dakota Johnson
The El Royale is a roomy, tacky Lake Tahoe hotel — literally straddling California and Nevada, with a wing in each state — where you should be very afraid to stay, given the hidden cameras, secret corridors, two-way mirrors, and messy corpses. The corpses belong to the characters in Drew Goddard’s ’60s-set chamber opera Bad Times at the El Royale, most of whom get splattered over the walls or (on the Nevada side) slot machines.
Linearity gets shredded, too. The movie feels like the work of a man whose young mind was opened by Pulp Fiction and Jackie Brown — as well it should have been, given that Quentin Tarantino’s second and third features were marvels of forward-backward-sideward storytelling. Goddard regularly stops and rewinds to fill in the backstories of the people in each of the occupied rooms: an ex-girl-group singer (Cynthia Erivo) in town for a dead-end Reno gig; a priest (Jeff Bridges) with a suspiciously wavering grasp of the liturgy; a vacuum cleaner sales exec (Jon Hamm) with a southern accent out of summer-stock Tennessee Williams; and a blue-jeaned hippie chick (Dakota Johnson) bearing live cargo. Also figuring prominently in the narrative are an emotional basket case of a hotel manager (Lewis Pullman) and a Jim Morrison–like cult leader (Chris Hemsworth) with extraordinarily well-defined abs.