Bad Times at the El Royale, a film by writer-director Drew Goddard, is a highly-stylized trip through the ’60s, and, reflective of the decade itself, equal parts beauty and shocking violence.

The story follows a group of wayward travelers who arrive separately on the same afternoon at the El Royale hotel. The hotel is located in woodsy Lake Tahoe and straddles the California-Nevada border. Indeed, it’s split down the middle with a bold red line of demarcation, selling guests on the novelty of sleeping in one state or the other (California is going to cost you a bit more, be warned). This kitschiness made the hotel a hot spot for gambling and good-timin’ in the past, but by the time the guests arrive, it’s seen better days.

Father Daniel Flynn (Jeff Bridges), Darlene Sweet (Cynthia Erivo), Laramie Sullivan (Jon Hamm) and Emily Summerspring (Dakota Johnson) are each given a room, and scuttle off in their respective directions, not keen to make friends. In fact, we soon discover each guest has come to the hotel quite intentionally with a secret they’re attempting to conceal. Their facades are stripped away by night’s end, however, as they cross paths — sometimes unknowingly — and muck up each other’s plans. We learn more and more about each character with glimpses into their past and present — non-linear storytelling at its finest.

Though the ensemble cast is brilliant (it’s Chris Hemsworth’s best performance yet), this is truly Erivo’s movie. The Broadway singer and songwriter is so utterly watchable that she could be singing into the camera the entire film and you’d still be glued to her, story be damned. Not long into her storyline, you find yourself rooting for her to go all the way even as her sex and skin color work double time against her. Erivo is a star both of stage and film to be sure, and her presence helps bring authenticity and heart.

As was the case with his feature film debut, The Cabin in the Woods, Goddard is concerned with one thing here — making sure you love a genre just as much as he does. While Cabin was a mega-meta love letter to the horror genre, Bad Times displays that same level of reverence for pulp fiction noirs (there’s definitely a Tarantino vibe). It’s all assumed identities, rain-drenched nights, and seedy underbellies — and Goddard’s love is clear in all of it. And it is that love that makes Bad Times not only the best film from the director thus far, but easily one of the best films of the year.

Experience your own Bad Times at the El Royale this Friday, October 12th.