Bad Luck at a Motel in Tahoe

I’m torn on this one. Drew Goddard. If you tell me the Buffy the Vampire Slayer alum made a film with this title, I’m leaning towards an element of supernatural. That was never promised, but a part of me still thought there would. You add in neon lights and Motown music, I’m expecting the devil to show up and give us all a decision to make, but that didn’t happen-well it didn’t happen the way that I thought it would.

I’m not going to summarize this for you. Movies are to be enjoyed and it’s Fall so everyone should be trying to be at the movies at least once a week if they can.

A bunch of people end up in a motel in Tahoe, each with their own baggage, but it turns out it’s not the devil, just dumb luck.

It’s kind of a pervert’s hotel. The mirrors are double-sided so that whatever you get up to at these hotels is documented and sent to “management”. One of the characters turns out to be a fed and he’s just there to collect some wiretaps they had. He didn’t plan on a kidnapping happening or his conscience to kick in at the worse time.

There are people there for fame. There are people there for money. There are people there for power. Mixed in with this lot are people who are there because they have no where else to be and part of them just wishes they were dead. So basically, this eclectic bunch resembles Thanksgiving dinner.

The set up is amazing. The music and the atmosphere alone make this visually stunning. I want to stay at this motel even though it was built for perverts. This movie runs at close to three hours and even past the two hour mark I was expecting the supernatural element to rear its head. When it didn’t, I had to quickly reassess what I wanted out of this experience.

There is nothing supernatural about this film. No devil or demon to come to terms with. No secret societies that hold the key to everyone’s fate. Goddard did not go that route this time. Instead, it’s simply a film about an eclectic group of people that find themselves at a seedy Tahoe motel one rainy night. I can dig it.

Could a supernatural element have been added? I believe so, but it was fine without it. Something I did catch myself thinking about. When Chris Hemsworth is in frame with Jeff Bridges — I tried to figure out who’s hotter. Chris Hemsworth right then and there or Jeff Bridges in Against All Odds. Like Elliott and Cooper in A Star is a Born, there was a deja vu moment and I can’t figure out which one won the battle.

You be the judge.

Chris Hemsworth in Bad Times at the El Royale
Jeff Bridges in Against All Odds

What this analysis does tell me is that our metric for beauty hasn’t changed all that much in the past forty years. Not necessarily a bad thing, but it is good to be noted. If faced with both of these guys at a seedy Tahoe motel and I had to choose black or red to save my life, I’d lean more towards Jeff Bridges to save my ass than Thor.

It’s great popcorn fare and worth the watch. If you get a chance, watch Against All Odds — it’s a good film too.