John Hamm

Review: Bad Times at the El Royale (Carson’s View)

Bad Times at the El Royale had a tremendous start. I was fully invested from the moment I saw the original trailer. The first half of the movie did not disappoint. I was engaged. Surprised. Excited. My mind was reeling trying to figure out all the possible directions that this movie could go, and I couldn’t wait to find out. Then I watched the second half.

I do not know if the second half of the movie was bad or if I was just disappointed. Disappointed that the movie I had played out in my head wasn’t even close to what ended up on screen. To give a proper full review on Bad Times, I would most likely need to give it a second viewing. That way I could review it for what it is, and not for what it isn’t. So, I will give it an “improper review” instead.

My main issue with Bad Times at the El Royale is the wasted potential. I loved the set up. Seven strangers at a hotel all with a secret in their back pockets. Interesting characters: A priest, a vacuum salesman, a hippie, a singer, a hotel manager, a young girl, and Thor. Each were cast perfectly for their role. They were all introduced in a way that left you wanting to know more about them, and at the same time doubting what you already know.

At the halfway point, so much happens all at once. Then it screeches to a slow, drawn out, pretty basic second half. Feels like a lot like the TV series LOST, where someone had a great idea for an engaging set up, but has no idea how to tie it all together or wrap it up. Bad Times also leaves you with a ton of unanswered questions that you can’t help but wonder if that was intentional or just bad story telling.

My expectations were simply far too high going into Bad Times and were only escalated by the intro. Had “Trailer-Guy” not done his job so perfectly in the teaser trailer, I believe I could have left the theater pleasantly surprised. Instead, I left with only the disgruntled thoughts of what could have been.