Sometimes, the art of making a movie can be a delicate balancing act. In cases of films like Bad Times at The El Royale, that shows itself as you have a filmmaker who has a number of ideas he wants implemented. The goal in this instance is to fit all of those ideas into a certain narrative structure. In this particular case, some of these fit just fine while other significant portions could have actually been cut altogether since they end up wasting time more than actually adding to the plot.
Seven strangers carrying their own secrets meet at Lake Tahoe’s El Royale, a hotel that contains a closet full of its own secrets. Over the course of one night, a chance at redemption presents itself for each person. For some, the opportunity arrives early, but for others, their potentially favorable circumstances present themselves a bit later. Regardless of when it comes, all hope for a positive outcome. There’s a chance they might get it, but surviving the night full of blood could prove to be big of an obstacle to overcome.
In spite of the apparent potential for something fresh, a lot of what we get in Bad Times at The El Royale is actually predictable. It’s so predictable that you can probably guess what’s going to happen fairly early on without really putting too much thought into it. This doesn’t completely ruin the movie, but it could take some of the suspense out of it if you’re hoping to see something stimulating, enthralling, or even a tad bit original.
While predictability doesn’t ruin Bad Times, the long build up toward everything we get certainly could in the eyes of some. Before you even watch it, you know there’s going to be at least some set up in this or pretty much any other movie that gets released. The specific problem here is that it takes far too long and isn’t even always necessary when looking at what’s important to the overall story and what isn’t.
In fact, there’s a large part of this story that should have been removed completely. There’s no real reason to have included it anyway, since it doesn’t add much to anything. With a few alterations, what could be seen as important in this particular part of the film could have been salvaged while getting rid of the rest of it. Doing so would have likely turned this into a better and more stable movie while also resulting in a significant reduction in screen time for one of the performers. That would suck for this person, but the character doesn’t really need to be here anyway.
This would have also made the movie faster and maybe even put the focus on the storyline that’s actually interesting and has more narrative weight than it ends up having. Not only that, but this particular part of Bad Times is much more compelling since there’s never been much of a focus on this topic in mainstream movies. Instead of a movie like this, we get something that feels glued together and unnecessarily extended. You might not mind if you love the world that was set up for us to settle into, but the rest of us probably will.
There’s a good movie in there, but you just need to get through all of the irrelevant stuff that we’re forced to sit through in order to get to it. If you’re able to accomplish that, you may be pleased with what you get while also knowing that it all could have been processed better. Whether you’re satisfied with it really depends on how much of what’s here you’re willing to tolerate. For people who prefer their movies get to the point, being willing to forgive and overlook its issues might be asking too much.
Director: Drew Goddard
Film Length: 120 minutes
Release Date: October 12, 2018
Distributor: 20th Century Fox
- Score - 5/105/10