Three weeks ago, Fox released in theathers their latest thriller – Bad times at El Royale. However, despite it’s high score from critics and viewers in Rotten Tomatoes (73% and 76%), it didn’t perform well at the box office and hardly reached its budget, while at the same time, the latest installment of Halloween has made 5 times its budget. What might be the reason for that bomb I will try to break up in here.
The movie opens with the arrival of a modest guy, sometimes in the 60’s, in one of the rooms of the hotel. I won’t spoil his reasons for staying there and how his story ends, however it lays down the foundation for the main story, which takes place about 10 years later. The story itself engulfs 7 strangers together, in one common fate. And here comes the first issue.
The random meeting of strangers, which end up tangled together, is a trope used by Hollywood quite often. Made popular by Guy Ritchie and Quentin Tarantino, in every variation we expect to see the same thing. It has also been explained in various ways, from personalities of a mental person, to family members, accomplices to murder, etc. However at some point, you’ve had too much and nothing really surprises you. Since the movie is a thriller, the reveal of the strangers backgrounds and what led them all to the same place is crucial for the story. The movie deals with that very well, however none of the reveals is really a surprise for the viewers. The only exception, being in the third act with one of the characters, which really stuns the audience, for a brief moment.
The cast itself is quite strong. Jeff Bridges (The Big Lebowski, Tron, Iron Man, etc), a titan in Hollywood and a brilliant actor is only one of the reasons to watch the movie. Also, Dakota Johnson (50 Shades of Gray), which here plays a rather serious role and Jon Hamm (famous from TV shows such as MadMan, Legion, etc.) complete the palette. It’s just impossible not to like the charisma of Jon’s character. Host to these strangers is Lewis Pullman in the role of the hotel piccolo, bartender and receptionist Miles Miller. A young man with dark past, sank in self-pity and remorse. The cherry on the top is of course, the beloved Thor, Chris Hemsworth. Here he plays a villain of sort. However his charisma is still very contagious.
Another reason for the poor box office performance might’ve been the way the movie was advertised. From the trailer, you have the feeling that the supernatural haunts the hotel. That would’ve been a great idea, considering the month in which the movie is released. Despite, having the feeling that any moment, some force will punish our characters, the reality is far from that. However, by my opinion that is the charm of the movie. In real life, people don’t run from witches, ghosts, demons or monsters, but from themselves and their past. The theme of the movie is how far you can run, before your past catches up to you!
In conclusion, I recommend the movie to anyone, who wants to watch a good thriller, without some kind of supernatural monsters, that is based entirely on psychological foundations. Despite its predictability, the emotional impact and the character charisma, makes you associate yourself with their life stories. The ending, although not so happy, shows that every person deserves what’s coming to them sooner or later. So visit the hotel, located between California and Nevada, called El Royale and choose your side. Good or evil, You decide!