Review: Bad Times At The El Royale is a decent thriller that attempts to be more ambitious than it really is. The film begins with a fine amount of promise; stunning cinematography, oddball and quirky characters with mysterious pasts, a stylish period setting and a bi-state hotel where they all assemble to kickstart the film’s narrative. But when the novelty and glamour wear off, that’s when the film starts to flounder in its proceedings. Erivo’s character arc is interesting, but her singing portion is awfully stretched out to the point of exhaustion; yet, her acting is strong and exceptional. The same can be said for Bridges, who plays a mysterious priest seeking shelter at the El Royale. The chemistry between these two charismatic characters is intriguing, but never fully explored. Johnson does fine, but Hamm is the show stealer; it’s a pity we don’t see him too much. A special mention for Lewis Pullman, who does a fine job playing the unusual hotel manager, although his constant pleading to Bridges’ character (for a reason that cannot be disclosed) surpasses the limit of frustration. As the film progresses and the layers start to peel away, it is noticeable that there isn’t something overtly special about these characters or their setting; they’re simply shown to be enigmatic people, but on the contrary have simple and not so mysterious pasts. The film has a few twists in store, but exhausts its quota and loses steam pretty early. The climax, however, is riveting but then again, a clunky flashback bogs it down. There are several such past montages for each character that weigh this film down, when it could have easily been a smooth, suspenseful and thrilling ride. Some character arcs are drawn out way too long, and some potentially interesting characters are wasted. Bad Times At The El Royale isn’t a terrible film; it’s actually engaging for most part and quite original. The film does take flight, but never soars to its true potential.