Bad Times at the El Royale ★★★

Bad Times at the El Royale was a lot of fun in the moment but I feel like it will lose some luster the farther I get away from it. Goddard really has fun with some clever non-linear storytelling that occasionally feels just a tad bit show-boaty. The performances save the movie from falling for its own clever trappings, though.

I really appreciated the way Goddard brings characters together and guides them through a ton of surprising and suspenseful experiences. Alliances you wouldn't expect are formed, violence breaks out at a variety of unexpected moments. There are some detours the narrative takes as the movie struggles a little bit to explain characters' backstories along the way. But for the most part, those backstories come at pivotal moments and are fairly interesting.

The movie's biggest hurdle is one it sets for itself. The concept, narrative structure, and violence all work well together. But it's to the movie's detriment as we aren't given much substance. Some of the plot threads are set up to hook our emotions, I guess. But when the majority of the movie is style and clever non-linear storytelling, it makes it hard to latch onto the sparse emotional beats.

Even still, Bad Times at the El Royale is a fun movie that won't feel like a waste of your time but also may not stick with you leaving the theater.

Reviewed in Episode 256 of The Obsessive Viewer Podcast.