2018 was an interesting year for movies. Within that one year we were given such films as “A Star Is Born,” “Black Panther,” “Bohemian Rhapsody” and so much more. However, with so many groundbreaking films catching our eye, there were bound to be some that fell under the radar, some I regret losing the opportunity to do a review on. However, given current events, it’s time to give this 2018 cult classic its due as I present to you “Bad Times at the El Royale.”
The year is 1969. A Priest (Jeff Bridges), a Singer (Cynthia Erivo), a Vacuum Salesman (Jon Hamm), and a Mystery Woman (Dakota Johnson) all check into a hotel on the same day—the El Royale Hotel. Despite the hotel’s clean condition, the resort appears to be staffed by only one individual, the odd and awkward bellboy Miles Miller (Lewis Pullman). However, nothing is as it seems as all of them are not who they say they are, and all have a dark past that’s led them to this strange hotel, and one that has its own shady past. Murder, mystery, and bad times are sure to be had at the El Royale Hotel. The film also stars Chris Hemsworth and Cailee Spaeny.
I’m not the first person to say this about “Bad Times at the El Royale,” but the film feels like a Quentin Tarantino project. The film is a perfect blend of violence, humor, retro music, mixed with mystery, all while being set in the late 60s—the era of the Vietnam War, nefarious FBI espionage, Hippy Cults, greed and corruption. I was invested in the movie within the first two minutes. There’s no singular main character, everyone has an important role in the story as the plot unfolds, and it all leads to a series of events until one big and satisfying conclusion. Everyone disappears into their roles and gives a phenomenal performance. Although, Chris Hemsworth almost steals the show when his character arrives in the story, but I can’t go any further without risking spoilers.
I also have to give praise for the set design of the film, because I adored it. The design of the hotel, the rooms, among other secret areas, and even the antique props. If you’re a fan of films that take you back to the 60s—payphones, jukeboxes, pie vending machines—you’ll have a blast with “Bad Times at the El Royale.”
However, if the topnotch acting, splendid writing and directing isn’t enough to tempt you, the killer soundtrack will. The film is gifted with an amazing score from bands like Deep Purple, The Mamas & The Papas, The Four Preps and so much more. No joke, this movie introduced me to songs I’ve never heard of, but I’m much richer for it.
“Bad Times at the El Royale” is rated R for strong violence, language, some drug content, along with brief nudity. This is a film that deserves to be on everyone’s ‘Must-See’ list. If you enjoyed “Once Upon a Time In… Hollywood,” then think of this like it’s precursor. Which is why the final and well-deserved score for “Bad Times at the El Royale” is a 9 out of 10.
Matthew Mendisana is a Lynn University alumnus. While he possesses a Bachelor’s Degree in Science, it’s the arts that attracted his attention. He currently serves as a Journalist and Copy Editor to the Coastal Breeze News and is working on becoming a Published Author.