Saturday, 10 November 2018

Bad Times At The El Royale (15)

Every now and then, and it seems to be happening less and less sadly, a trailer will come along that will actually just tease the film.

Now, granted, it's been well documented in these parts that trailers are not something we always catch — so maybe it happens all the time.

But we doubt it.

And certainly not as well as this.

Literally left with  no clue as to what was going on, but it looked slick, stylish and had a cast good enough to fill four other films.

And given the extended trailer for The Girl In The Spider's Web is basically the whole film, this was both exciting and intriguing.

A film being sold on the strength of its cast, that looks dark and nasty?

This should be good....

And written by a guy who wrote for Alias, Buffy, Angel, Lost, Daredevil? Directed by the guy who was behind the camera for Cabin In The Woods? And they're the same bloke?

Oh come to Papa....

And for once, expectations were not only met but exceeded.

This is a nasty, gritty, darkly comic, bloody, sleazy, trashy piece of joyous brilliance.

And the cast (Jeff Bridges, Cynthia Erivo, Dakota Johnson, John Hamm, Chris Hemsworth) are clearly having the time of their lives.

The story — essentially strangers meet at a hotel and stuff then happens — is king here, though. A twisty-turny narrative that flicks between the past and present with consumate ease.

Horror film tropes are used well, which comes as no surprise given writer/director Drew Goddard's previous work, and when the punches come they hit hard.

Part of the reason they hit so hard, of course, is that you care about the characters.

The priest, the singer, the travelling salesman and the jaded, mysterious, woman are all so well drawn, so much detail is provided in a small space, that you feel you know them from the off.

Then there's the pacing of the film.

Now, normally, a film that barely changes gear is not a thing to be applauded — but here? Here, it really works.

It allows the tension to build slowly, and even better allows the jumps and shocks to come out of nowhere.

This is a film that has you gripped before you even notice.

The other masterstroke is an event. Yes, think that's the safest word to use.

A thing.

A thing happens.

And when it does, you know all bets are off — and almost effortlessly the tension goes up a notch.

Sure the film isn't perfect, and Hemsworth is actually too OTT and almost ridiculous as his character, but by the time he arrives you're so far down the tunnel you can forgive this mis-step.

Especially as the ending is the very ending you would want.

Bad Times is a gritty little beast that gets under your skin and makes you feel warm and dirty. In a good way. Probably.

It also brings Cynthia Erivo to the big screen for the first time, and in doing so does the whole world a massive favour.

This is one hotel that deserves to be revisited on a regular basis.

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