The Guest

2015-06-05 08:19

What it's about:

A soldier introduces himself to the Peterson family, claiming to be a friend of the son, who died in action. After the young man is welcomed into their home, a series of accidental deaths seem to be connected to his presence.

What we thought:

The Guest is quite a trip for any horror fan. A thriller with style, sprinkled with action and comedy, your brain isn’t entirely sure what to do afterwards. Director Adam Wingard and writer Simon Barrett have been teaming up for almost five years, and have made many glorious horrors together, from You’re Next to segments for the traumatising V/H/S franchise. But their latest offering to the gore gods is their best yet, helmed by an actor you would never have thought could ever scare the daylights out of you – Dan Stevens from Downton Abbey fame.

The film starts off very mild, with a dash of foreboding. While a family deals with the loss of their soldier son, a stranger appears on their doorstep claiming to have been really good friends with the son, and promised him he would check up on his family after he’s gone. But after a while his past causes mayhem in the small town.

Although the movie can be a little predictable, except for the stranger’s origin story (you will never know completely), the beauty of the movie comes in its execution. Stevens broke every memory of Matthew Crawley and gave such a psychotic performance that it left you disturbed. Part of the conflicted feelings is also in part his attractiveness (hot damn!) and twisted moral code. He tries to help the family he lives with, in his own demented way, but really his morals only last as long as it benefits him.

Maika Monroe, who plays the daughter of the family and the only one who is suspicious of the stranger’s presence, has already acted in her fair share of horrors, including the indie hit It Follows. A strong performance, her character encapsulates the audience’s mistrust of the stranger as well as their unwanted attraction to him. He is the perfect 'wolf-in-sheep’s clothing', and even when his real character is revealed, you still hold onto some doubt if he is absolute evil.

The first edit of this film was originally an extra 20 minutes, including scenes that explain the stranger’s backstory and why he is the way he is, but Wingard decided after a test screening that it was too much information for the audience and left the lead’s origin story a mystery, with a few hints here and there. This was a well-thought-out approach and one that paid off, as that mystery is a big part of what makes the film such a trip.

The wired action scenes was quite a surprise and went out of control really fast, in a good way. As the bodies pile up, the filmmakers stuck to the style and didn’t deviate from its psychological nuances. Although it has it’s comedic moments, it will always be with a nervous laughter and a tentative smile. The Guest is the kind of horror that I would recommend for those that don’t like horror that much, as its appeal can be stretched beyond that.

The Guest has definitely set the benchmark for both Stevens and the Wingard and Barret partnership, which is already working on The Woods and I Saw the Devil, and if they are anything of the same calibre as this one, I cannot wait.

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Tristan Snijders 2015/06/08 8:51 AM
It's a complete, and brilliant, throwback to 80s action thrillers. Dan Stevens is excellent in this, and the soundtrack just rounds off an awesome piece of cinema.
Sara Myles 2015/06/22 12:48 PM
Yes, am surprised this review makes absolutely no reference to the fact that the film is an obvious homage to 80s thriller and horror films from David Lynch to Sam Raimi. And the excellent 80s goth soundtrack is the other obvious link to this. Great movie, I hated Dan Stevens for leaving Downton Abbey but now I am a believer - he was badass!
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