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Bad Times at the El Royale

Bad Times At The El Royale

Here is a film that I wanted to love, but ended up just liking. It has everything that I like going for it; interesting premise, great cast, a focused writer/director and a welcomed score. I've been a fan of Drew Goddard since his days on Buffy The Vampire Slayer. Looking at his filmography, he's been apart of some projects that I love, or at the very least found interesting; Lost, Cloverfield, Daredevil, World War Z, The Martian and of course one of my favourite films in recent years, The Cabin in the Woods. Since he directed the later, I was immediately interested in seeing what his follow-up film would be and everything that I saw about Bad Times looked great. It's a shame that both his directorial efforts didn't make more money because he seems to be offering something a little more than what your average film seems to be.

Bad Times boasts a pretty decent cast with Jeff Bridges, Dakota Johnson, Jon Hamm, Chris Hemsworth, Cynthia Erivo, Nick Offerman and relative newcomer Lewis Pullman. Each person is clearly given a defined persona for their character and they seem to run with it pretty well. This is an ensemble piece, so no one is front and centre and you feel like anyone can bite the dust at any moment.

Goddard introduced the hotel being on a stateline between California and Nevada, with each side having their own colour scheme and decor. I was waiting for this to somehow factor into the story, but it never really does. It seems to be just a quirk to talk about it and look interesting. I was with this film until the third act, when it dovetails into a more cliched film. It felt like maybe Goddard didn't know how to end things, so he introduces Hemsworth and tries his best to consolidate characters and it sort of backfires. It becomes old-hat and tiresome. What was once something interesting and new ends up being just like every other film.

With the misstep towards the end, the film doesn't reach the heights of where it wants to be. I see people comparing it to what a typical Tarantino film might be and sure I see some similarities, but Goddard has a unique enough spin to make it his own. The obnoxious runtime doesn't help keep things moving at a brisk pace, we tend to slow down here and there for conversations between characters that I think needed a jolt of something to keep a bit more interesting. Bad Times wants to be something great, but it needs to settle with being something good.