There’s noth­ing like an early check-out

Sunday Tasmanian - - News -

(MA15+) Drew God­dard ( Cabin in the Woods) Dakota John­son, Jon Hamm, Jeff Bridges, Cyn­thia Erivo, Lewis Pull­man, Chris Hemsworth

is the clear-cut take­away from the al­ter­nately in­trigu­ing and in­fu­ri­at­ing Bad Times at the El Royale: it is not here for a good time, it is here for a long time.

It doesn’t re­ally mat­ter much that mis­ery reigns supreme in what is es­sen­tially a hard-boiled mys­tery-noir af­fair.

How­ever, it does mat­ter that it takes a big, fat two hours and 20 min­utes to flat­ten all pos­si­ble wrin­kles from an al­ready thin and pa­pery premise.

The year is 1969 at an out- of-the-way ho­tel sit­ting smack-bang on the Ne­vadaCal­i­for­nia bor­der. It’s so smack-bang, in fact, that a painted line de­lin­eat­ing the sep­a­ra­tion of the states runs right through the es­tab­lish­ment’s foyer.

As the ac­tion slowly picks up, a hand­ful of freaky guests are check­ing in for the night at the El Royale.

As we have al­ready gleaned from a com­pelling pro­logue fea­tur­ing Nick Of­fer­man as a past guest of the ho­tel not long for this world, one of the new ar­rivals will be un­wit­tingly stay­ing in a room where a huge whack of stolen cash is stashed un­der the floor­boards.

Mean­while, an­other of their num­ber will be watch­ing the guest ledger with in­tense in­ter­est, await­ing the right chance to ac­cess the suite and get their paws on that sweet moolah.

To fur­ther up the ante when it comes to work­ing out who knows what about the money — and who has no clue what­so­ever — there is a hid­den se­ries of cor­ri­dors and one-way mir­rors be­hind the walls of ev­ery El Royale room.

It takes a while to come to­gether, but it grad­u­ally be­comes clear that the evening will be a high-stakes lot­tery with an in- stant death sen­tence pos­si­bly await­ing those who don’t win.

Among the con­tes­tants as­sem­bled are suave trav­el­ling sales­man Laramie Sul­li­van (Jon Hamm), dod­der­ing priest Fa­ther Daniel Flynn (Jeff Bridges), itin­er­ant soul singer Dar­lene Sweet (Cyn­thia Erivo) and tough-talk­ing femme fa­tale Emily Sum­mer­spring (Dakota John­son).

They’ll later be joined by a Charles Man­son-ish cult leader named Billy Lee (a scen­esteal­ing Chris Hemsworth), whose jolt­ing in­jec­tion into pro­ceed­ings is all about forc­ing a clear re­sult in the cash-grab stakes and com­plet­ing a fi­nal body count.

If you can be very pa­tient with Bad Times at the El Royale, its flam­boy­antly strange clos­ing act might still pay its way. Oth­er­wise, think long and hard be­fore sign­ing in.

BARE IN THERE: Chris Hemsworth plays a cult leader named Billy Lee in the new movie Bad Times at the El Royale,

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