"Bad Times at the El Royale" isn’t necessarily a bad time as much as it is an unfulfilling experience. The film is as if the plots of Girls by Emma Cline and "The Cabin in the Woods" came together in a once glamorous hotel outside of Reno.

"Bad Times" tells the story of a show singer (Cynthia Erivo), a disguised priest (Jeff Bridges), an incognito vacuum salesman (Jon Hamm), and a drifter (Dakota Johnson) who all check in for an evening at the El Royale Hotel. A prolonged check-in scene with a bellhop (Lewis Pullman) sets up a film much like a game of Clue, but falls far short of even a board game's intrigue. Management of the hotel has created a secret hallway behind the hotel rooms allowing someone to video record through two-way mirrors. This might have been a big reveal (twist?) if it wasn't made within minutes of the opening scene and abundantly apparent in the movie's trailer. Later, the narrative arc falls entirely flat when cult leader Billy Lee (Chris Hemsworth) comes to the El Royale without any real development. He doesn’t even check in to the hotel.

"Bad Times" indices its characters in near-20-minute chapters. If done well this might have made for an interesting storytelling technique as plot points would be seen through different angles and contextualized within the character's backstory. However, the majority of these chapters are spent on irrelevant plot points or given another vantage point on any action sequence without furthering the storytelling in any meaningful sense. This comes at the expense of Chris Hemsworth's character, who is supposed to be the plot keystone, yet his only major addition to the film is having great abs that make his cult lady following go wild.

This isn't to say that Hemsworth does a bad job — the acting overall is quite good. The issue is the comedically talented Hemsworth and Oscar-winner Jeff Bridges aren’t given a lot of script to work with. Establishing shots for Hemsworth are minutes too long. The motivation behind Jeff Bridges' character is peculiar and unconvincing. The vocally talented Cynthia Ervino sings beautifully but is tasked with singing a capella (with the assistance of a metronome) three times in the film, some of which are near-complete songs, in the middle of the movie. Her work with Bridges is actually some of the saving grace of the movie, though it's not enough.

"Not enough" truly is the feeling audience members have as they leave the theater. The movie is set up to be like a twist-filled jigsaw puzzle, but it's pieced together in the first 45 minutes and asks audiences to be satisfied with a cult ring leader story that is neither cultish nor leading. All this is to say, the set up is magnificent, the framing is attractive and eager, but the execution is lackluster.

"Bad Times" is a cinematic experience which lives up to its name.

Tyler Grant (@The_Tyler_Grant) is a Young Voices contributor, who completed a Fulbright Fellowship in Taiwan. He writes movie reviews for the Washington Examiner.