I. Simon’s review published on Letterboxd:
Clever, fun, thrilling and unpredictable, Bad Times at the El Royale is a fresh, innovative addition to the mostly stale murder mystery-thriller genre. It focuses on the aspects we love about the genre while being subversive when it comes to tired tropes.
Drew Goddard - returning behind the camera for the first time since surprising us with The Cabin in the Woods - once again has a distinct vision of what exactly he wants to do, and it shows through the writing and direction. The filmmaking is especially exceptional, most notably in Seamus McGarvey’s cinematography, without a doubt some of the best of the year. The film not only looks gorgeous, but there are multiple jaw dropping long takes present, specifically in one hallway sequence. The sound design and score are fantastic, the editing and narrative structure are unique, the production design is stunning, and even the costumes are super authentic to the time period.
But the film doesn’t work without its ensemble. The acting is solid across the board, most notably in the performances from Cynthia Erivo and Chris Hemsworth (to my shock).
Despite feeling a tad too long, Bad Times at the El Royale makes for both a great film and a welcome return from director Drew Goddard six years after The Cabin in the Woods, and the fact that it flopped in the box office is so upsetting (I actually wanted to go see it, but it left the closest theater that played it within the first week). Rarely do mainstream studio films get better or more original than this.