Bad Times at the El Royale 2018 ***

Writer and director Drew Goddard offers up an all-star, single-location thriller that looked like a Tarantino-lite knock-off from the trailer, but mines it’s own unique seam of neo-noir drama. A number of different parties converge on the remote and isolated El Royale Hotel, including suspicious priest Daniel Flynn (Jeff Bridges), Charles Manson-like serial killer Billy Lee (Chris Hemsworth) and an assortment of others including John Hamm, Dakota Johnson and Cynthia Erivo. There’s buried treasure at stake, but the hotel itself, built over a state border and previously used for nefarious surveillance purposes, has a few secrets of its own. At nearly two and a half hours, Bad Times at the El Royale has a few longeurs, and there’s also some big revelations and genuine tension, particularly in the first half when motivations are still obscure. Goddard’s slow-burn tension doesn’t require any comparisons; he’s flying a flag for old-fashioned crime fiction, and approached in the right mind-set, the twists and turns of El Royale are well worth following


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