REVIEW — “The Guest”
Coming from the creative talent behind “You’re Next”, “The Guest” is another genre-bender that is fun for a while, but loses it’s charm during the climax.
The darkly gifted duo Simon Barrett and Adam Wingard have worked together a number of times. Here they once again exercise their motif in taking familiar concepts and characters and then turning them on their head in very unexpected ways. Dan Stevens (“Downton Abbey”) plays “David” a mysterious man, dripping in charisma, who shows up at the Peterson family’s home one afternoon, claiming to be a good friend of their son who recently passed. David explains that they were very close while in the military, and their son asked him to personally visit and tell each member of the family how much he cared about them. Skeptical at first, each family member quickly falls victim’s charm and accepts him as one of their own. Obviously, there wouldn’t be much a movie if David was the person he seemed to be. As mysterious deaths begin occurring around town we assume he is responsible, but is he helping out the family or a dangerous psychopath?
Barrett and Wingard explain how their intent was to blur the lines between the good and bad guys which is an area where this film excels. Dan Stevens has an impressive screen presence, at first so convincing as the coolest dude ever that we want to hang out with him too, but then giving us glimpses into the dark side with scenes where we watch the smile melt off his face leaving a smoldering and intimidating stare. The first half of the movie is nearly devoid of music, but soon begins employing an electronic keyboard score accompanied with a handful of underground songs. Although the story appears to take place in modern times, it has a decidedly 80s feel to it. In fact, the best way to describe this film is a John Carpenter-esque thriller flavored with John Woo tropes.
Opening with a shot of a scarecrow that just might be flipping us off, “The Guest” is enjoyable and fun but falls short on the thrills and cleverness we saw in “You’re Next.” Those who are still nostalgic of the early 80s thrillers will probably enjoy it best, and those with a dark sense of humor will enjoy it even more.
3.5 out of 5 Stars