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490. Bad Times At the El Royale; movie review

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Title : 490. Bad Times At the El Royale; movie review
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Cert 15
136 mins
BBFC advice: Contains strong threat, language, violence

A quality thriller with great twists and turns or a flick with failed Tarantino aspirations?
Mrs W and I were at odds over Drew Goddard's Bad Times At The El Royale. She favoured the former viewpoint while I leaned towards the latter.
It's not that I found it without merit. Its interesting cast applied the requisite quirkiness and it does spring many a surprise.
However, when it tries to be funny, it falls curiously flat.
Goddard's film stars Jeff Bridges as a priest who finds himself at a remote motel which straddles the border of California and Nevada.
The former gaming den has fallen on curiously hard times and the only other guests are a loud salesman (Jon Hamm), club singer (Cynthia Erivo) and mysterious sisters (Dakota Johnson and Cailee Spaeny).
Gradually the layers of their individual stories are peeled back with a combination of repeated Rashamon-like delivery of scenes from different perspectives and also a peek into their back narrative.
Their tales are compelling and often a tad sleazy, fitting in well with the hotel and and its operative (Lewis Pullman) who has his own dubious history.
And then the mayhem really begins when another 'guest' (Chris Hemsworth) and his sidekicks arrive on the trail of one of those who have already checked in.
Make no mistake, Bad Times At The El Royale is bloody and quirky. It is not for those keen on family entertainment or a straightforward story.
Indeed, I struggled to follow it during the first 45 minutes or so as its narrative kept spinning forward and backwards.
However, I could see its attraction. There is Tarantino-style over-acting but tension worthy of the master.
And it gives a chance to the likes of Johnson, Hamm and Hemsworth to work well outside of their back catalogue.
It is arguably a tad too long but I saw enough of Drew Goddard's work to want to see more. Mrs W is already convinced he is the real deal.

Reasons to watch: If you are a fan of Tarantino-style movies
Reasons to avoid: Take to long to hit its mark

Laughs: None
Jumps: One
Vomit: Yes
Nudity: Yes
Overall rating: 7/10

Director quote - Drew Goddard: "You try to write a script that will get actors excited. And then we took that script and send it to Jeff Bridges first.  And then Jeff said yes right away, which made my life so much easier. Because what you learn is everyone wants to work with Jeff Bridges."

The big question - Is there a cult which doesn't have a crazed leader?

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