Bad Times at the El Royale — Ending Explained & Plot Summary

Nothing good at the hotel El Royal – review and analysis of the film. The splendor and poverty of the El Royale hotel. If on a rainy night several strangers meet under the same roof, expect trouble. We were taught to this by “Ten Little Indians”, “The Hateful Eight” and “Identification”. And what secrets hotels can hide – everyone remembers from childhood from the hit “Hotel California”. The El Royale hotel brilliantly fits into this conceptual series – even in the opening credits, we see how a mysterious guest is killed, who hid a bag of money under the floor in his room. And for money, as one of the characters aptly later will say, someone always comes.

Border position and border state

The El Royale hotel is built on the border of two states (and one of them is California). The catch is that in one state alcohol is allowed, but in another it is not. The film is set in 1969, on the edge of the decade (“We haven’t had that spirit here since nineteen sixtynine” – thanks, “Eagles”!). One of the main characters calls himself a Catholic priest; and in medieval Catholicism, the concept of “border” (limb) referred to the place of residence of souls who did not get to heaven.

Most of the characters show clear signs of BPD, and those who do not clearly show it are either on the brink of major life changes (like the black singer Darlene Sweet) or teetering on the brink of the law (like FBI secret agent Seymour Sullivan). The film draws an almost visible border between reason and madness, law and lawlessness, passion and prudence. Hotel El Royale is a place for important trials and important decisions. And then – either heaven or hell.

Two hours from the life of the country

The director of the film, Drew Goddard, unfolded the entire bright palette of America in the late 60s in front of the audience in two hours of screen time. Here is the Vietnam War, and the scandals associated with Kennedy, Nixon and Hoover, and the hippie movement, and the terrible Manson sect, and racial segregation. Total surveillance, a “bouquet” of hidden microphones in a hotel room, mysterious film, robberies and murders – all accompanied by an impeccably selected soundtrack from “26 miles” of The Four Preps to “Hush” Deep Purple.

Each hero has his own place in a bright kaleidoscope; each of the characters is an irreplaceable piece of the puzzle. Together, they add up to a cruel, but very clear and merciless picture. Only 141 minutes of action and one day of life, leading to a predictable but inevitable ending.

Let’s drop the masks, gentlemen

The heroes of the picture themselves cannot understand themselves, therefore they deceive both each other and the audience. The chatty salesman of vacuum cleaners turns out to be an FBI agent who has come to remove the eavesdropping equipment from an unnecessary “object”. Politicians and celebrities no longer visit El Royale, which has been deprived of its gambling license, and there is no one else to collect dirt on.

Penetrating “backstage” of a luxury hotel and discovering someone else’s recording device, the agent accidentally sees a girl, almost a child, who, he thinks, is in trouble. A gentle father, who does not miss the evening prayer with his daughter, rushes to the aid of the “unfortunate”, despite the ban of his superiors. But the girl’s innocent look is also a deception, as is the agent’s luggage, full of vacuum cleaners, as well as the bright sign of the hotel, as well as the priest’s collar on the former criminal “Dok”. Everything around is a deception, everything is turned inside out, destroying illusions and taking away life.

Prisoner of the hotel “El Royale”

In the deserted El Royale, which had lost its luster and luster, only one porter, Miles Miller, remained of all the servants. This is a young man, almost a boy, who was first given a weapon in his hands and sent to war, and then, when he could no longer kill, he was adapted to a dirty business. Nobody will let him go – he knows too much. And no one will forgive his sins until a robber disguised as a priest appears on the doorstep.

The mysterious “owners” of the hotel remain behind the scenes, acquiring almost mystical features; the hotel itself looks more and more like purgatory. But at the decisive moment, his prisoner and guardian, a young neurotic exhausted by war and political games, realizes that the language of shots is the only one in which one can talk with Evil on equal terms. His faith performs a real miracle – the “false priest” for some minutes becomes a real priest in order to prepare the victim of the country and the era for a meeting with God.

Two sisters and a demon  

Emily and Rose Summerspring are victims of a rapist father. Their psyche is hopelessly undermined. The eldest, Emily, attacks only when threatened; but behind Rose’s angelic face hides a one hundred percent psychopath killer. But her life could have turned out differently if she had not met the one behind whose grinning face the demon is hiding – the preacher Billy Lee, the “father” of a numerous sect.

Like his prototype, Charles Manson, Billy rallied young people devoted to his antisocial ideas. But if Manson did not kill anyone personally, giving this right to his followers, Billy is happy to use his hands and weapons. His “lectures” and training finally corrupt Rose and turn the girl into a manic criminal.

In vain Emily tries to save her sister, even with the help of violence. Rose is so devoted to Billy, who replaced her father, lover, and teacher, that she betrays her sister without hesitation.

Emily, saving Rose, killed Agent Sullivan; he, in turn, was sure that he was saving an innocent baby. This girl, Billy’s favorite student, is death itself. She is not worried about material gain, she does not care about the consequences of actions. She surpassed her “guru”, and he deftly manipulates her, turning Rose into a living, walking weapon.

The meaning of the ending of the film

Few will survive the terrible night: this is the law of the genre. Maybe not the strongest, and certainly not the most cruel, not the most honest, but the most adequate. Those who were able to leave the purgatory of “El Royale”, being reborn and knowing themselves. But their future life is unlikely to be heavenly – after all, “El Royale” fell, and its owners remained in the unknown.

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