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John Gillispie: ‘Bad Times at the El Royale’ keeps viewers guessing

January 18, 2019
Courtesy of IMDB.com Cailee Spaeny in Bad Times at the El Royale

Movies & More reviewer John Gillispie shares his thoughts on “Bad Times at the El Royale,” which is rated R and available on DVD.

“Bad Times at the El Royale,” which is written and directed by Drew Goddard, offers interesting characters, intense drama and plenty of surprises.

The character played by Jeff Bridges checks into the El Royale hotel and signs the register as Father Daniel Flynn. Waiting in the lobby is a salesman calling himself Laramie Seymour Sullivan (Jon Hamm), who wants to book the honeymoon suite since his company is paying for his stay.

Singer Darlene Sweet (Cynthia Erivo) arrives at the same time as Father Flynn. Then, Emily Summerspring (Dakota Johnson) shows up and is less than friendly to the others.

Miles Miller (Lewis Pullman) seems to be the only hotel employee at the El Royale, which we are informed has recently lost its gambling license. The hotel straddles the state line between California and Nevada and the guests have the choice of choosing a room in one state or the other.

Showing up later in the film are pivotal characters played by Cailee Spaeny and Chris Hemsworth.

Several of the characters in this film have secrets that will be revealed as the movie plays out and many initial appearances turn out to be very deceiving.

There are plenty of violent scenes in this film and some of the hotel guests find themselves in serious jeopardy. I did find the film compelling and hoped that certain characters would survive.

“Bad Times at the El Royale” did have me guessing how the film would end and several times along the way the movie went in unexpected directions while still being able to highlight the importance of both trust and forgiveness.

John Gillispie is the public relations director for the Huntington Museum of Art.

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