Creepy Cults and a Run-Down Hotel: 'Bad Times At The El Royale' Is a Clever Mix Between a Tarantino Film and a Classic Murder Mystery

WARNING: Spoilers ahead!

If you enjoy a classic, Agatha Christie-style murder-mystery then you’re in for a treat; Bad Times at the El Royale delivers just that, but in a twisted way that will make you wonder what kind of a society this may have been. If I were to describe this movie, I would say it has elements you would find in a Quentin Tarantino film but it also features a fairly large ensemble cast such as the one in Murder on the Orient Express (another must-watch!) 

It’s set in 1969 at an isolated hotel which straddles both California and Nevada but what’s really cool is that the hotel has a thick red line running down the middle dividing it into the California side portrayed as the land of sunshine and the Nevada side, portrayed as the land of hope. We are introduced to a fake priest, who is really trying to complete a robbery that his friend started before, an aspiring singer, a wise salesman who turns out to be working for the FBI and a young, hippie woman who has her own dark secrets, involving a cult. Then it gets really weird: the hotel has a secret tunnel where workers can spy on their guests in the rooms, and unfortunately for the hotel’s only employee at that moment, he is witness to some pretty bizarre things. 

There are a few graphic murder scenes, so if you hate blood and loud noises, this movie isn't for you. Each of the characters have different back stories which all seem to lead them to this hotel but they are soon all in for a treat when the main villain, Chris Hemsworth’s Charles Manson-like character appears (and yes, he is shirtless in it). The plot then becomes quite philosophical as each of the characters are held captive in a Russian roulette game - which of the characters are innocent or guilty? Who gets to live, and who gets the money? 

The movie has references to 1960s American life; the Vietnam war, live music, race, and religion as well as a very aesthetically-pleasing set and cinematography. Drew Goddard (the director) does a great job at making you feel like you’re part of that whirlwind lifestyle. The only criticism I have about this movie is the length - running for 141 minutes, it takes a while for the main action to appear and I zoned out a bit at the start.