Bad Times at the El Royale
A once-trendy, near-deserted Lake Tahoe motel and its closet-junkie clerk (Lewis Pullman) play host to a motley assortment of guests (Jeff Bridges, Cynthia Erivo, John Hamm, Dakota Johnson), none of whom is quite what they seem. Writer-director Drew Goddard gets off to a stylish start, with a burst of Tarantino-esque narrative energy and a garishly beautiful retro-’60s look courtesy of production designer Martin Whist and cinematographer Seamus McGarvey. But Goddard can’t sustain it past the first 25 minutes, much less for the full two hours and 21 minutes. He piles so many turns into his plot that it simply feels like constantly changing the subject. He keeps us guessing for a while, but by the time Chris Hemsworth shows up as a Manson-style psycho, we just want Goddard to wrap things up and let us go home.