Bad Times at the El Royale contained elements of action, mystery, and comedy, all of which was tied together elegantly with great cinematography but spiraled slightly out of control at the end of the film. The beginning of this film feels similar to mysteries such as Clue or And Then There Were None—the movie begins with a group of strangers meeting at the El Royale, all with hidden motives or intentions. The movie then switches focus between various characters, highlighting their backstories while also revealing their intentions for staying at the El Royale.
The movie had a very promising beginning and great actors, but the storyline felt incomplete. The main seven actors were fantastic: Jeff Bridges, Cynthia Erivo, Dakota Johnson, Jon Hamm, Chris Hemsworth, Cailee Spaeny, and Lewis Pullman. Dakota Johnson added comedy to the script with her entertaining sass and strength, and Chris Hemsworth added tension and discomfort as he takes on a very different role than the famous character Thor. Unfortunately, the story introduces some ideas that never feel resolved. For example, the characters look at a roll of film and never fully answer what is on the film, making it feel like an unnecessary detail to tease the audience. The movie also mentions the owners of the El Royale, but they never become involved with the action of the film, which feels incredibly problematic once you understand what this hotel is all about.
Even though I wasn’t completely satisfied with the conclusion, the movie was still enjoyable to watch in theatres. The cinematography was undeniably beautiful. There are scenes playing with the reflections of two-way mirrors that show an eerie look into peoples’ lives. The cinematography also adds excitement because some of the same scenes are shown through different perspectives; the audience gets to view a single event from multiple angles.
Bad Times at the El Royale is entertaining, engaging, and creative, but it falls short of perfection.