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Bad Times at the El Royale  (DVD)


Stars: Jeff Bridges, Cynthia Erivo, Lewis Pullman, Dakota Johnson, Chris Hemsworth, Jon Hamm, Cailee Spaeny, Nick Offerman

Director: Drew Goddard

It's 1976 and hard times have fallen on the El Royale, a hotel on the California/Nevada border. In fact, it's difficult to imagine why anyone would stay there. Despite its plush exterior, it has no food, apart from stale pies and sandwiches in a revolving case, only a few made-up rooms, and a staff of one (Pullman, son of Bill), who answers to the far-off 'management' (never seen).

One step up from the Bates Motel really, and Pullman is kinda creepy.

Nonetheless, a handful of people do turn up there at the start of the narrative. And, as we have seen '10 years earlier', one reason could be what a fugitive (Offerman) has hidden under the floorboards of his room just before he's shot.

Despite flashes of intrigue and excellence in editing and direction, however, the build-up at the beginning is too slow, and this pacing problem occurs on and off throughout this overlong film, so you keep wishing things would happen a mite before they do.

Performances, though, are good all round, with Erivo's singing a revelation (perfect casting for A Star is Born if Gaga hadn't got there first). And, if you buy the whole concept, you'll probably enjoy this more than I did.

David Quinlan

USA 2018. UK Distributor: 20th Cenntury Fox. Technicolor.
136 minutes. Widescreen. UK certificate: 15.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 0, Violence/Horror 2, Drugs 1, Swearing 1.

Review date: 13 Feb 2019