Jon Hamm and Chris Hemsworth shine in Bad Times at the El Royale

Photo Credit: Dominick D

By Richard Heaton


Move over every other horror and suspense movie of 2018, there’s a new thriller in town. Bad Times at the El Royale takes everything you thought you knew about the genre and flips the script.

The film was released on Oct. 12 and quickly became a cult favorite, despite a 71 percent score on Rotten Tomatoes. The film, directed by Drew Goddard, showcased a fiery blend of comedy, suspense, and horror.

It was Goddard’s first time directing a film in more than half a decade but has written the scripts for numerous successful films including Cloverfield, The Cabin in the Woods, World War Z, and The Martian.

If you have seen any of the other movies that he’s worked on, then you should know that you are in for a treat with Bad Times. While the movie is long and suffers from a few pacing issues, there are plenty of scenes that either catch you by surprise, are shocking or disturbing, or just fill you with dread.

That’s exactly what a good thriller should be like. It has all the jumpscares of a good horror movie, along with extended scenes that just build up anxiety levels. There are quite a few scenes are long and have the air of a life or death situation, which make it impossible for those watching to be calm.

You never know who’s going to live or die, how they might die, who’s good, bad, or extremely bad. The movie is so good with character development and plot twists that I could tell you right now who the big baddie is and you could end up liking them the most or being moderately surprised.

So what is the movie about? It follows the lives of seven strangers who meet at a hotel one night. Kind of like the plot for The Hateful Eight, only interesting. Jeff Bridges plays an old priest, Jon Hamm plays an eccentric and possibly introverted salesman, and Chris Hemsworth plays a guy who likes to walk around without a shirt on, Taylor Lautner style.

Over the course of the night, you learn about everybody. You see what each guest does for a living and what their deepest darkest secrets are. The film also displays a very light-hearted and comedic mood when needed, especially near the beginning.

The main sequence of the film starts off with four hotel guests all arriving at around the same time and interacting with each other while trying to get their room set-up. It’s a pretty long scene with no mention of suspense or thrill, but the humor and tone of the conversations are a nice contrast to the rest of the movie.

There are many reasons to watch Bad Times. The acting is always top notch, especially from guys like Hamm and Hemsworth. The visuals and use of props is great and the music is usually fun. Plus, if you are a fan of suspense, it’s one of the best you can see. Even if you are only a fan of one of the actors, such as Hemsworth, it’s worth seeing. Many of the actors were in new territory with this film and excelled.

In terms of revenue, Bad Times hasn’t been doing all that well. On it’s first day it made just shy of $3 million, and just $7 million over the weekend. Six other movies have made more that weekend, which included two that were already out for two weeks. After its opening weekend, the movie failed to make more than $1 million in a day again, which means that it’s time in theaters might be short lived.

Despite the failure at the box office, Bad Times will likely end up on numerous lists as one of the 10 best films of the year.



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