Bad Times At The El Royale

I have never had a bad time at a place called an El Royale. Just saying, for some sort of context. I haven’t been to any El Royales as far as I know. So neither good nor bad times have been had at any El Royales. I am an El Royale virgin. Or at least, I was before I saw this movie, Bad Times At the El Royale.

Alright, now that the nonsensical first paragraph, overall this felt like a movie that would be really enjoyable. I didn’t know what to expect, but I liked the cast of characters and thought it could have some really fun and interesting scenes.

After seeing so many duds lately, and great films, I needed something that would just be entertaining. I really wanted this to fill that genre gap in my movie watching schedule.

It did fill a Hemsworth sized whole in my heart. And that is a very large whole.

At the El Royale? Well, it used to be a happening spot. Lively nights, plenty of guests, and a lot of raunchy shenanigans. This hotel is on the border of Nevada and California. So it has a more expensive and classy side and a gambling side. A side for all the types who may want to visit. Now the hotel is almost in rambles. The front desk is basically just one person (Lewis Pullman), who also is the cleaning man, the bartender, and everything. A one man show.

And tonight? There will be some guests. We have Darlene Sweet (Cynthia Erivo), a potential singing star who has a secret. We have Father Daniel Flynn (Jeff Bridges), who seems to be losing his mind, and a man with a secret. There is (Jon Hamm), someone who really wants the Honeymoon suite, because he has a secret. There is the vulgar and unfriendly (Dakota Johnson), who clearly has a secret.

A lot of secrets, and a lot of bad stuff coming together. How are Chris Hemsworth, Cailee Spaeny, and Nick Offerman involved in the plot? Well, that’s a secret.


Did you know that Bad Times at the El Royale is over 140 minutes long? Shit, this might as well be a Marvel movie at this point. Now of course if a movie is engaging and fantastic, the time doesn’t matter. BT at the ER is in fact entertaining with some cool scenes. It has nice songs/soundtracks to encompass the scenes. It is told out of order from multiple perspectives to help unravel the mysteries and keep things fresh. It is really impossible to guess where it is going and how it will end. And yet, it also feels way too long.

Sure, different perspectives is fun, but that does mean we have to see some scenes multiple times. And there is a lot of backstory at times that are cool for building characters, and at the same time, not always necessary.

I really enjoyed Hamm in this film. He was a combination of some of his previous roles and it was definitely a good fit for him. Potentially it can be used as an audition for an eventual super hero! Johnson was acting like someone completely different in this film and it was refreshing. Erivo knocked it out of the park for me in the film, she was the real star, in so many talented ways. And hey, Pullman was interesting as the, well, lobby boy. I actually thought it was maybe Tom Holland pushing some boundaries for most of the movie.

BT at the ER is a fun film, a different film, a Quentin Tarantino lite film, and one that will please a lot of fans. Especially those of Hemsworth. It just needed a lot more editing and maybe a more focused outcome by the end.

2 out of 4.

The Strangers: Prey at Night

The Strangers was a really popular horror film a decade ago when it came out and I of course never watched it. Okay, I did see it last week, just to prepare for this sequel, to see why people were excited. There is a lot to like for those who want more realism in their films about people getting killed.

It was terrifying because it was set up as a completely random occurrence, it was something that could ¨happen to anyone¨ and not just people who drank or smoked or whatever. The bad people don´t have some strange backstories, hell, we never get to see their faces. They just torture, kill, and leave.

I watched that movie just to have some context for The Strangers: Prey at Night, and boy howdy, I am surely glad I did that. If I did not see the original, I would have never known just how badly this so called sequel actually was.

The lady in the back will help her fit through those holes.

This film centers us on a family going through turmoil. No, not people with knives, just teenage disobedience. We got a mom (Christina Hendricks), a dad (Martin Henderson), an older brother (Lewis Pullman), and our hero I guess, Kinsey (Bailee Madison).

Kinsey is a bit of a fuck up. Besides the underage drinking and smoking, she got into some serious problems over the last year and now her parents cannot deal with her anymore. She is going to boarding school, and they are all going to drive her down there. It is the last shot they have to fix her. They are staying the night in a trailer at one of their relative´s resorts, their last night as a family.

Oh, and then they find out that everyone is gone or dead there. And the three masked people are around, trying to spook them, or even kill them, or worse, sell them on the black market. Probably not the former. They just want to kill them for the lols.

Starring Damian Maffei, Lea Enslin, and Emma Bellomy as our masked killers.

Fear is imagining the hardworking Hendricks as a boring stay at home mother.

Everything good and wonderful about the first film was thrown out of the window for this follow up.

There was one or so surprises in the sequel. I will give it that. Things that I didn´t think would ever happen did happen, so it gave some nice shock. But that was the only positive.

Instead of regular people getting tortured by seemingly regular people, we instead have a whole family being terrorized by superhuman monsters. They are seemingly invulnerable at times, including one of them near the end that just never stops. Suddenly the guy with the bag head is Jason I guess.

Not to mention their ability to teleport around this trailer park area. It is crazy how they always happen to know which house they are hiding in. They always have someone nearby ready to go, even if they were just at some other place. I am having a hard time typing it, but coincidence central could be this movie. The movie was better when it was a single house because it all made sense then. But a giant resort village? Yeah right.

This film feels like it was not meant to be a sequel to The Strangers, but they changed their mind and said fuck it for some of that sweet brand recognition. Everything that made the first film work was just ignored and left to rot.

1 out of 4.