Bad Times at the El Royale (2018)
January 3, 2019 6:42 PM - Subscribe

Circa 1969, several strangers, most with a secret to bury, meet by chance at Lake Tahoe's El Royale, a rundown hotel with a dark past. Over the course of one night, everyone will show their true colors - before everything goes to hell.
posted by guiseroom (31 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
I wouldn't have seen this had Tasha Robinson not mentioned it on the filmspotting end of year podcast. It was wonderful. I definitely didn't expect the twist such as it was with Chris Hemsworth. Moving up the top Chris list!
posted by Carillon at 8:37 PM on January 3, 2019 [4 favorites]

I just watched this on a plane and loved it! Maybe it was because I was a little brain dead from 3 weeks of holiday travel but I didn't see any of the twists coming and was shocked by them all.

I was getting young crazy Brad Pitt vibes from Chris Hemsworth. And he was so good! Definitely moving up the Chris list.

I feel so bad for Miles. Poor Miles.
posted by LizBoBiz at 2:58 AM on January 4, 2019 [2 favorites]

I saw this in the theatre and *loved* it. It's very difficult to talk about spoiler-free, but I loved the sound, the way it was filmed, the characters, the momentum, the ending...
posted by Anonymous Function at 9:14 AM on January 4, 2019 [1 favorite]

I feel so bad for Miles. Poor Miles.

Given the tone of the movie and the things Miles was saying, the reveal of him being in the army was also surprising. I'd had it pegged as something more nefarious.
posted by Carillon at 9:22 AM on January 4, 2019 [5 favorites]

I’d skipped this because the few reviews I’d seen weren’t real favorable, but this thread makes me rethink that. Question for folks who’ve seen it - any sexual assault/violence in it? Thanks!
posted by skycrashesdown at 9:57 AM on January 4, 2019

The actor who plays Miles, Lewis Pullman, is the son of Bill Pullman, who is also an actor.
posted by guiseroom at 10:21 AM on January 4, 2019 [8 favorites]

Carillon: "I wouldn't have seen this had Tasha Robinson not mentioned it on the filmspotting end of year podcast. It was wonderful. I definitely didn't expect the twist such as it was with Chris Hemsworth. Moving up the top Chris list!"

Me too. She added a welcome bit of contrariness to that episode.

I do want to see this.
posted by octothorpe at 1:34 PM on January 4, 2019

I adored this movie so very much. Mainly because it hit all my buttons for good fun film and at the same time I was guessing the whole time.

Again, it's damn near impossible to talk about without spoilers but when Darlene says "He talks so much he thinks he believes in something, but really just wants to fuck who he wants to fuck." the whole audience clapped. There were even some "Whoooott!"s in the back.
posted by teleri025 at 2:51 PM on January 4, 2019 [3 favorites]

I liked this a lot, but I am a fan of Several Strangers Stranded, each has a Secret stories in general.
It’s not a Big Film, and didn’t break any new ground, but there is a LOT of talent onscreen, from acting to set design to music cues.
If you enjoy a small, very well made thing, this is for you.

Any sexual assault/violence in it?
No, but there are a few scenes of what I’ll call _menace_ in it. Meaning tension is built once or twice thinking it might go there, but it doesn’t. (I will say that all the women hold their own in terms of other violence. Everyone’s kind of in peril from everyone else in this one.).
So nobody gets eaten by a bear; but if you couldn’t stand a scene with a bear outside who sniffs at the tent’s zipper then wanders off, because even the implication is too much...
Oh, and a flashback scene opens with a child on the floor below a looming pair of adult boots, with a slurred “that’ll teach ya”. So domestic abuse is implied but not shown. CW if applicable.
posted by bartleby at 3:00 PM on January 4, 2019 [5 favorites]

I thought we didn’t need to worry about spoilers in these threads?
posted by LizBoBiz at 3:53 PM on January 4, 2019 [2 favorites]

Not explicitly, but sometimes I see FF posts treated as less a ‘let’s discuss details from act III of this thing we all watched’ and more ‘did other people like this? I sure did, and would like to let others know about it’. I picked up a few context cues that this post was trending toward the latter.
And since this one’s built on suspense - not a whodunnit? but what’s gonna happen next? - most of us are refraining from giving the game away for those who have come in asking ‘did you guys like it, should I spend money on it?’ and spoiling their fun.

If this was a big event movie like, say, Black Panther where basically _everybody everywhere_ just now came back from watching it and want to gush...but this was a small release that a lot of people missed. And it’s enough of a spring-loaded mousetrap that ‘wow, that plot twist when X did Y’ is ruining it a bit for those who haven’t seen it yet, and instead we can talk about

Hey, Shirtless Hemsworth makes a good Sexy Charles Manson, who knew?
Damn, Dakota Johnson in those 70’s jeans, amirite?
Where have they been hiding Cynthia Erivo all this time! She was amazing, and should be in All The Things next year!

posted by bartleby at 4:24 PM on January 4, 2019 [4 favorites]

This movie was so good and everyone should see it forever.
posted by corb at 6:53 PM on January 4, 2019 [2 favorites]

Thanks for posting this guiseroom! Had been meaning to check it out after it left theaters and forgot.

I'm starting to like (the producer) Drew Goddard - I absolutely adored his Cabin in the Woods (as director), which had a similar setup/ end-stage structure and a very very young-looking Hemsworth (not to mention 'The Good Place' and 'Daredevil').

Jeff Bridges continues to improve on his craft - his interview recently on Late Show was fun as hell.

Also, yeah, Chris Hemsworth has been impressing the fuck out of me for a while now (the inflection point being Kevin in Ghostbusters, and bringing a lot more than is necessary to the Thor role). That he lost 30 lbs of muscle mass for this film is crazy (but not quite as crazy of Christian Bale's weight swings).

Hemsworth has far superior eyelashes to Brad Pitt.
posted by porpoise at 8:14 PM on January 4, 2019 [3 favorites]

Actually it was only after that I connected the knife scene flashback with the crime seen on TV and not escaping from that abusive parent.
posted by Carillon at 9:47 PM on January 4, 2019

I thought this was shitty in an interesting way. It's a weird movie, and sort of overstuffed for what it is, but it still has some pretty good performances and some really beautiful shots. I liked the overall mounting feeling of paranoia, even if I think the last act was unnessecary. I left feeling more or less satisfied overall, but let down by the way that everything was wrapped up.

More specifically, the idea of the hotel [spoilers] being a rat's nest of tunnels, and secret bugs, and hidden secrets was all very cool, and I was with it up until the Manson gang arrived, seemingly just to thin the cast list and provide a resolution to the whole thing. Hemsworth's character and his gang were just sort of silly, and out of place with the setting, and the fire/shootout/mind games stuff is way less compelling than the taught psychological thriller that preceeded it. The scene of Hamm's character pulling wires out of every fixture in the hotel room was a delight - as were the scenes using Erivo's singing to punctuate people sneaking around in the walls.
posted by codacorolla at 10:32 PM on January 4, 2019 [7 favorites]

Much more tense than I'd expected and went in directions that really surprised. I really liked who the survivors were and the subtle ethical choice at the end. I think it could have used just a tiny bit more conspiracy theory, something like Hoover calling the chief of the local police to discourage responding to a call from that location, I mean the police are perhaps not close but the total absence seems a bit odd.
posted by sammyo at 7:29 AM on January 5, 2019

I totally agree with codacorolla on this one. It basically ticked all my boxes and I was excited to see it, but the final third left me flat. I mean what was the point? I wish the movie had stayed the course, avoided the Hemsworth stuff and ended up being resolved solely be the original hotel guests. Also, come on, the bellhop just randomly happens to be a super-soldier who feels remorse for the things he did during the war? Oh puh-lease.
posted by Literaryhero at 7:42 PM on January 5, 2019 [7 favorites]

I'm on the "eh" side as well -- a lot of great build-up for an unsatisfying conclusion. The cult angle was interesting in theory, but I felt like Hemsworth (who I usually love!) failed to channel the kind of sinister magnetism that would've made it work.
posted by mcfighty at 12:03 PM on January 6, 2019

This struck me as biting off Tarantino's early career shtick pretty hard, and would have suffered in comparison had there been more movies doing the same.

For what it is, I thought it was pretty good. I didn't feel particularly cheated by the various reveals and I liked that the movie managed to keep it up for the length of its running time without it feeling like it needed to keep having reveals for the movie to be interesting.
posted by Merus at 3:45 PM on January 6, 2019

This movie is a good example of why I mostly just watch the best TV now. Absolute waste of 140 mins for me. Felt nothing about any of it (other than the singing). Like "what if Pulp Fiction, but a thin, pointless gruel"? AV Club review calls it "plot heavy", so I guess we watched different movies.
posted by sylvanshine at 5:02 PM on January 7, 2019

I really, truly enjoyed this movie. So many great performances and wonderful plot twists. It's worth seeing based on Cynthia Erivo alone.
posted by pjsky at 7:33 AM on January 8, 2019 [2 favorites]

I have to agree with Merus regarding the Tarintino influence. My sister and I walked out of the movie saying, "Well someone really likes Tarantino". It seemed really derivative and had way too many convenient things happen to wrap the plot up in a nice little bow (i.e. the drug addicted bellhop secretly being the world's best sniper).

If I heard the character Darlene Sweet sing one more time in that movie I was going to scream. I know she is played by a fantastic Broadway actress, but I couldn't listen to that same darn song again!

It was clear Hemsworth was having a ball with the part so that was amusing, but in the end it seemed like a cool idea for a movie (or maybe two different movies) that just didn't pan out.
posted by Julnyes at 10:39 AM on January 9, 2019 [1 favorite]

I loved this movie! And the soundtrack is amazing, Cynthia Erivo is fantastic too.
posted by ellieBOA at 6:16 AM on January 13, 2019 [1 favorite]

So who do you think was on the tape? I think maybe JFK? Just based on the time period (seeing Nixon speaking on tv, so the current time was early 70s?), someone saying the person on the tape was already dead, the fact that the heydey for the El Royale was late fifties/early sixties, and the wall with all of the rat pack and Marilyn Monroe photos. No one seemed "happy" to see who was on the tape so it must have been someone admired. JFK or Robert Kennedy? One of them may have even been on the wall of photos, did not catch much there.
posted by the webmistress at 7:39 AM on June 14, 2019 [2 favorites]

Darlene's "I see that you're going to kill me so I might as well call you out on what a pathetic piece of shit you are on my way out" speech is the highlight here. Love that trope.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 7:58 PM on June 14, 2019 [3 favorites]

Man I did not expect to get weepy over Miles. I was like "NO NOT MILES! ANYONE BUT MILES!" He just seemed like he was already on the verge of falling apart before all hell broke lose at his job. Like dude was already barely holding it together and yet still wanted to live. ARGH!

I was actually expecting the end to be that the feds show up and basically mowing everyone down and covering it up so no one discovers the Reel of Doom .
posted by miss-lapin at 9:18 PM on June 17, 2019

This was sort of like the kind of movie I may have really liked if it came out when I was 12. But I think instead I’ll just remember it as one of the movies where I first saw Cynthia Erivo.
posted by MoonOrb at 8:02 PM on November 21, 2019

The Cal Neva Hotel, inspiration for the El Royale, has an absolutely fascinating and sordid history that weaves together celebrities, mobsters, politicians, and tons of tragedy and scandal. The link goes to a very detailed Wikipedia entry that's worth reading. Tidbit: Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin and Sam Giancana owned it.
posted by carmicha at 9:27 PM on January 6, 2020 [1 favorite]

I do wish we got a resolution to the FBI subplot. Why was Jon Hamm there? What happened to the other FBI agent he mentioned in the Hoover call? Etc
posted by qxntpqbbbqxl at 8:19 PM on January 29, 2020

It's been a while, but wasn't it implied that Hamm was there to ratfuck / blackmail a Kennedy by getting the tapes?
posted by codacorolla at 8:02 AM on January 31, 2020

Hamm was there was to pick up the bugs that were left in the room by the CIA since the place was no longer a draw. While doing that he discovered the OTHER bugs (presumably put there by "management" as part of the black mail scheme) and...things went from there.
posted by miss-lapin at 11:42 AM on February 1, 2020

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