Friday, October 26, 2018

Bad Times at the El Royale (2018)

All things considered, I’m not sure what to make of the movie.  The movie starts with a man entering a hotel room and hiding a duffle bag beneath the floorboards.  (Even this one act is difficult, as he has to rearrange the furniture and move it all back when he’s done.)  We don’t know what’s in the bag yet, but it must be important.  After he finishes it all, he answers a knock at the door and is promptly shot.

Ten years later, several guests arrive at that same hotel.  Father Daniel Flynn and Darlene Sweet are the first two we meet.  Laramie Seymour Sullivan is next.  Them, Emily Summerspring.  Then there’s the clerk, Miles Miller.  He does this little routine about the hotel being on the California-Nevada border.  (For some reason, the California side costs a dollar more.)

Each of the characters has a past and most aren’t what they seem to be.  If you’ve seen the coming attractions, you know that the priest isn’t really a priest.  Even if they’re honest, they all have something to hide.  Even Miles has a past he’d like to forget.

The movie seems to be a study in contrast.  You have the hotel on the border of shady Nevada and sunny California.  Each character has a face they present and a past that they hide.  Even using Darlene Sweet and Daniel Flynn as the first two characters seems to be a choice in that he has the most to hide whereas she’s the only registered guest that never tries to hide her name.

The movie is enjoyable, but not perfect.  While watching the movie, I wasn’t really distracted by anything.  However, it was one of those movies that I started wondering about after I left the theater.  It’s not that any one aspect was lacking.  It was more that the movie never really seemed to come together.  None of the characters really seem to progress throughout the movie.

There aren’t any characters that I really hated or liked, and I find that I usually need someone to like or hate.  I can see that each character has at least one redeeming quality and at least one regret, but the movie doesn’t quite seem to make it work.  It seems like everything about the movie has to be a dichotomies.  (Some are more obvious than others.)

This is a movie you could be forgiven for not seeing in the theaters.  If you’re going to watch it, I’d recommend waiting for it to come out on DVD. 

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