Written & Directed By: Drew Goddard
Cinematography By: Seamus McGarvey
Editor: Lisa Lassek 

Cast: Jon Hamm, Dakota Johnson, Jeff Bridges, Cynthia Erivo, Chris Hemsworth, Nick Offerman, Jim O’Heir, Lewis Pullman, Xavier Dolan, Shea Whigham 

Circa 1969, several strangers, most with a secret to bury, meet by chance at Lake Tahoe’s El Royale, a rundown hotel with a dark past. Over the course of one night, everyone will show their true colors – before everything goes to hell.

The film actually works against it title. While as the film can get brutal and shocking. You will most likely walk away from the film with a smile on your face and feel that the film offered you many good times.

In keeping with writer/director Drew Goddard’s wheelhouse as with his film , CABIN IN THE WOODS the film involves hidden rooms and cos that surveillance that seems routine and then seems to go berserk. this film which at first comes off like a period 1960’s mystery. Actually reveals itself to be a rather twisty and twisted pulp concoction. That more feels like a graphic novel adaptation. Due not only to it’s many different chapters. Which at first seem like they could be fine stand alone tales for the moment until you get to the next scene. Which usually revolves around a different character but intersects with what has corn before it while furthering the films story as a whole.

The reason I can’t exactly call it a comic book though it deals with plenty of issues. There is no clear hero though at times shows true villains, but at heart it shows how hard it can be to be moral in an ever darkening world where what is acceptable and normal seems to shift.

The film also fills in characters pasts through well timed flashbacks. It’s these attention to details at just the right time that makes the film feel more literary. As it works on that level. Unfortunately with so much to reveal it does make the film a little longer then it needs to be. Which you bring to notice in certain instances.

Though the film does lend itself to more the service of the actors. Who obviously are having a ball with their roles getting to play bigger at first and then reveal the subtle nuances to their characters.

The film doesn’t exactly answer all the questions it presents, but it’s ending allows for it to be a stand alone. Where the answers to the questions could be solved in another installment to the film. But as this film wasn’t quite a hit one believes we will have to be satisfied with what we have.

As director Drew Goddard has an association with bad robot JJ Abrams production company. You can feel his influence to a a degree with the mysteries and somehow some characters working for the government. While most characters are hiding secrets from their past and are trying to either reinvent themselves or running away from their pasts. The actors you figure to least likely be are the actors who soon come more to the forefront as the leads.

They are all on their toes and have good footing. Though Cynthia Ervivo is a revelation mainly because out of the cast she is the most novice and not only does she knock out the acting but also the singing. Showing off her tony award winning skills in the big screen. As her character can usually see through most to the heart of them whether they are truly evil or good.

Jeff Bridges has played these types of roles and has made his presence felt before in many roles, but this is one of his latest where he really leaves a mark and is memorable. As a criminal who has a kind of morality that matches his disguise.

The film lends Dakota Johnson the chance to really try to show more depth and a chance to create and inhabit a more memorable character then she has usually gotten a chance to. As more in supporting roles or in studio movie leading roles that truly never tested her.

I will say that I am a fan of Drew Goddard’s work and while this film has less science fiction elements then his usual work. It still remains a fun adventurous movie that partly has a sense of humor but is more of a character driven thriller. Where the most dangerous character is the one you least suspect.

I can’t say the film is ultimately shocking but as it revealed itself little by little. It makes the audience want to know more and explore more. As what at first seems simple actually becomes much more complicated. As it feels Tarantino-esque after a while

As the film gives us characters who are all guilty of something though some have a wavering loyalty to do the right thing in the end. While others give way to their own wants and desires while spewing about freedom and what is right and wrong.

The films only downfall is that it asks you to believe a little too much in coincidence and convenience.

Grade: B-

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