Bad Times at the El Royale came and went this October, despite the kinds of bona fides — starring Jeff Bridges, Jon Hamm, Dakota Johnson and Chris Hemsworth; directed by Drew Goddard (The Cabin in the Woods); scored by Michael Giacchino — that should have made the neo-noir a hit. Now, however, the film may have a second chance at the spotlight.
As hinted at in the trailers, actress Cynthia Erivo is the film’s secret weapon. Up to this point, Erivo has been best known for her Tony Award-winning performance in the Broadway version of The Color Purple, and her voice is put to full use in Bad Times at the El Royale. Her character, a singer named Darlene Sweet, is one of seven strangers who cross paths at the El Royale hotel, and as tensions rise and the proceedings start to get bloody, Sweet gets a few opportunities to let loose.
Apart from the film’s mixed reviews, its biggest disappointment was that these songs were notably missing. When the film’s score and soundtrack were released in conjunction with the film’s premiere, Erivo’s songs were nowhere to be found — until today.
Erivo’s renditions of “This Old Heart Of Mine (Is Weak For You)” and “Hold On I’m Coming” are included in the version of the soundtrack released today, easily vaulting Bad Times at the El Royale up the list of best soundtracks of the year. There’s no denying the power of Erivo’s voice.
If these tracks put you in the mood to seek out more of Erivo’s work, she also co-stars in Steve McQueen’s Widows, which showcases one of the other things she’s known for: her physical prowess. While starring in The Color Purple, Erivo made the news by completing the Brooklyn Half Marathon before doing back-to-back performances of the show, and Widows has her off to the races.
In the meanwhile, put on the soundtrack to Bad Times at the El Royale, and look for the film’s digital release on Dec. 18. Though its 141-minute runtime might seem daunting, it’s still a good time at the El Royale, and worth the watch for Jeff Bridges sporting a clerical collar, Chris Hemsworth’s rippling abs, and, of course, Cynthia Erivo’s life-affirming voice.