“The El Royale — No Place for a Priest!”
Actually, it’s not for anyone, dear Mr. Vacuum Salesman (Jon Hamm). Something is coming for the guests of this declining “bi-state” hotel, so described since it lies between California and Nevada, and it has only menace on the mind…
“So what is it then?” you asked Drew Goddard, the director and writer of 20th Century Fox’s buzzy, 1969-set mystery thriller Bad Times at the El Royale after seeing the footage above. Afterward, accept the fact that this is a case of ask and ye shan’t receive since Goddard is the director 2012’s The Cabin in the Woods, which, like this film, loved and lived off of secrecy. According to The Hollywood Reporter, the script was presented to buyers on a tablet that was to return to the courier’s hands when finished.
In that spirit, El Royale’s plot, centering on seven strangers finding redemption during their stay before it’s too late, is being revealed in a puzzle-like manner. There’s a priest who’s not really one (Jeff Bridges), interspersed shots of an armored truck robbery, Hamm’s manager being a voyeur (all the rooms have a two-way mirror), a singer (Cynthia Erivo) who’s broken but never a weakling, Mrs. Grey switching careers from editor to kidnapper (?) and, among more mysteries, Chris Hemsworth as a shirt-unbuttoned, ready-to-boogie villain (who may be a distant cousin to his bad-boy character in A Perfect Getaway).
But please, please, be doubtful at the sights. Having demonstrated to audiences that he’s a formidable genre blender as director (The Cabin in the Woods) and writer (The Martian), Goddard will have surprises in store. Don’t worry if, and we’re positing this based on the last part of the current synopsis, the El Royale turns out to be a version of hell. Or another active simulation of The Organization. Or we’ll find out that Hemsworth’s character is actually Beelzebub, hence the sense of danger (one character said, “We have to get as far away from him as possible”). Anything goes!
Only a few things are certain: There will be an audiovisual feast (Star Wars’ Michael Giacchino is the composer; Godzilla‘s Seamus McGarvey is the d.o.p.. Holy moly, so is El Royale a sci-fi then?!) and the odds, thus far, are high that the characters’ bad times at the establishment will be a great one for viewers.
The El Royale will open for business October 5. For more news and an eventual review of the film, stay with The Young Folks.