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With Dark and Twisted Turns: Bad Times at the El Royale

Wednesday, February 20th, 2019 | Posted by Tina Jens

Bad Times at the El Royale

I just watched Bad Times at the El Royale and really liked it. It was clearly influenced by the best of Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez.

The cast is an impressive one, including Jeff Bridges, Jon Hamm, Chris Hemsworth (giving a remarkable messianic performance worthy of Jim Morrison), and Nick Offerman (in a small role). Cynthia Erivo also does her own singing. Her voice, like her acting, is stunning, and she provides the soundtrack to much of the movie.

Dakota Johnson, Cailee Spaeny, and Mark O’Brien also turn in top-notch performances. All the actors are excellent, and I do mean that. I’ve never seen a movie that was more perfectly cast and perfectly acted.

It toys with who the protagonist or point of view character is, slipping in and out of each character deftly. Each is revealed to be not who we thought they were, and then when we think we know who they really are, that’s proven wrong, too. With dark and twisted turns it explores the question of what is good and what is evil. It posits that there’s more than a little of each in all of us.

The movie handles time slips really well, which allows us to see scenes from different perspectives, turning our understanding of the events upside down.

The pacing is unusual, which is probably why the movie wasn’t a bigger hit. In the beginning, particularly, you have to settle in and not try to rush it. It starts out at a low simmer, lulling you into a false belief that you know what’s coming next. That makes the reveals that are coming far more powerful.


  1. I’m a big Tarantino fan. I also enjoyed the film. Hopefully poeple will appreciate it at home.

    Comment by Charles_Martel - February 20, 2019 10:57 am

  2. I enjoyed it quite a bit. I did think, though, that it was (like most movies these days) about 20 minutes too long.

    Comment by Thomas Parker - February 20, 2019 12:11 pm

  3. I liked it quite a bit myself.

    Comment by Rich Horton - February 20, 2019 8:18 pm

  4. One of the most interesting films I’ve seen in a long while. Loved the way the director/writer played with characterization and audience expectations. The plotting and time elements weren’t exactingly perfect, but they were still quite good, reminding me more than a little of “Four Rooms” and making me think of this film as Tarantino lite, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing because Tarantino goes too overboard sometimes, in my opinion.

    I also loved the ensemble cast and how well they worked together. Considering there were some big names here, it was something of a surprise that not only did each character receive their proper due and moment in the sun, so to speak, but that none of them as individuals overpowered the film to make it their own. That’s some class acting and understanding of the material.

    Comment by Ty Johnston - February 23, 2019 12:56 pm

  5. Folks may recognize Mark O’Brien, who played the hotel clerk, from a number of small roles in various genre shows filmed in Canada. I recognized him from his 4-season stint as Des Courtney on the humorous P.I. show The Republic of Doyle available on Netflix. Apparently, they also tried spinning his character off for his own show, which lasted one season. He also did guest roles in Murdoch Mysteries, Hannibal, and Warehouse 13, among others.

    Comment by Tina Jens - February 23, 2019 8:12 pm

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