Blu-ray: Bad Times at the El Royale

STUDIO: Fox | DIRECTOR: Drew Goddard | CAST: Jeff Bridges, Chris Hemsworth, Jon Hamm, Dakota Johnson, Cynthia Erivo, Lewis Pullman
RELEASE DATE: Jan. 1, 2018 | PRICE: DVD $14.77, Blu-ray/DVD Combo $19.17
BONUSES: featurette, gallery
SPECS: R | 141 min. | Crime mystery/thriller | 2.39:1 widescreen | DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 | English, Spanish and French subtitles

RATINGS (out of 5 dishes): Movie | Audio | Video | Overall

It’s a little bit Tarantino, a dollop of Hitchcock and a smidgen of Coen Brothers, but what’s to complain about?

That’s what you come away with after watching Bad Times at the El Royale. Derivative, yes, but also chockful of twists and turns, smartass dialogue and surprising violence.

Dakota Johnson is smoking in Bad Times at the El Royale.

Set in 1969 at a rundown luxury hotel where the borders of California and Nevada collide with each other, the film from writer-director Drew Goddard (The Cabin in the Woods) offers a handful of colorful characters stopping into the hotel, all of them with questionable backgrounds. There’s a laid-back priest (Jeff Bridges, The Fisher King), a loquacious salesman (Jon Hamm, Beirut), a bad luck lounge singer (Cynthia Erivo, Widows), and a flustered hippie chick (Dakota Johnson, Fifty Shades of Grey). Trying to handle the eclectic guests’ whims and ways is the bellhop/manager (Lewis Pullman, The Strangers: Prey at Night), who is aiming to please, but who  carries his own batch of buried surprises. Add a sadistic cult leader (Chis Hemsworth, Thor) and his young, ardent follower (Cailee Spaeny, Pacific Rim: Uprising) and you have quite a load of unpredictable lunatics.

The noirish thriller film runs nearly 2 ½ hours, and while may this may seem protracted by genre standards, the running time is necessary to tie most of the threads and characters together yet leave a few mysteries in the air.

Despite a decent amount of pre-release hype and extensive advertising buys in the different forms of media, Bad Times didn’t really bring good times with its box-office returns, bottoming out at $18 million on a budget that’s nearly double that. But if ever a movie was made for the home market this is it—name stars, intriguing premise and high awareness numbers are intact as it lands on the home front.

Buy or Rent Bad Times At The El Royale

About Irv

Irv Slifkin has been reviewing movies since before he got kicked off of his high school radio station for panning The Towering Inferno in 1974. He has written the books VideoHound’s Groovy Movies: Far-Out Films of the Psychedelic Era and Filmadelphia: A Celebration of a City’s Movies, and has contributed film reportage and reviews to such outlets as Entertainment Weekly, The Hollywood Reporter, Video Business magazine and National Public Radio.