Watching The Guest was a bit like that one time I went Bungee Jumping. You can see and know exactly what’s coming, yet you just don’t know what to expect. The dangers and the obvious outcome are in front of your very eyes but the journey is still as thrilling as ever.
Director Adam Wingard and writer Simon Barrett have put together a cheeky thriller that makes no apologies for its crazy exploits and they certainly don’t hide away from poking a little fun at themselves in the process. The movie has that old school slasher/thriller feel from the 90’s but with a much more polished look and a fantastic soundtrack that accentuates the tension on-screen so much you will be forgiven for ignoring the obviously terrible decisions played out in front of you. The introduction to The Guest plays out straight like a classic horror movie setting the tone immediately for whats to come.
Straight away we are introduced to our main character, David (Dan Stevens) running along on his way to the Peterson family, who are mourning the loss of their son that died in combat. You see David is a former soldier that served with the Peterson’s son and he has a message that he has promised to deliver to the Peterson’s from their son.
When we get our first look at David it is an honest one, you in no way have any doubts as to the sinister nature that the movies anti-hero has and immediately you know that a storm is brewing. This is something that Laura Peterson (Sheila Kelley) doesn’t see at all and grateful to have a further connection to her late son, she decides to invite David to stay with the family until he has a solid plan to move forward with.
The rest of the Peterson family are not as immediately trusting though so David has to win over the rest of the family, winning over their individual favour with not so subtle methods. There is a scene in the beginning of the movie where David meets the Peterson’s teenage son, Luke (Brendan Meyer) and the two sit staring and sizing each other up and you can immediately see David’s mind spinning as he notices signs that the young boy is experiencing bullying at school. A fact that he uses to further win over the young man.
This carries on with Mr Peterson, Spencer (Leland Orser) and the very suspicious daughter, Anna (Maika Monroe – who looks like a mash-up of Brittany Murphy and Gwen Steffani). David of course manages to win them over and he does have affection for the family, this affection and appreciation he shows in some very unfavorable acts of gratitude. Which of course adds to the story’s mayhem?
Anna’s still feels reluctant to trust David completely though and she decides to start doing a little research to find out exactly who the man is that her brother spent his last minutes in life with. This introduces an interesting chapter in the movie which gives Barrett a good platform to give the movie some real depth. Unfortunately he doesn’t take the advantage here and leaves you with questions that just never get answered, this didn’t work for me.
Now as I have said before the movie is very much in your face with obvious and sometimes cheesy cliches. There isn’t much time getting the action underway and you get to know the characters as the story unfolds, with entertaining and at times utterly ridiculous exploits. The pacing set up by Wingard is great, moving through the films first act with David showing off his good side to win the trust of the gullible Peterson’s and adding a good amount of violence. Then stepping up the tempo nicely and throwing in a good dose of homicidal madness.
The acting is pretty solid from the cast all round with Maika standing out especially. Stevens is great in this movie and completely steals the screen. He switches between charming, helpful house guest to menacing psycho with ease. The acting is pretty solid from the cast all round with Monroe standing out especially.
Now The Guest is not a perfect movie by any means and there are a lot of really frustrating moments. The characters are found making some obviously stupid decisions and this can lead to a few frustrating moments. But it all seems to be part of Wingard and Barretts plan as they throw in all the tricks you have seen before, but they sure do it with style and were clearly having fun doing so.
Some people will hate this movie but if you can switch off just a little and go with the ride, you will find yourself surprisingly pleased.
You can watch The Guest on DVD now.
Last Updated: December 21, 2015