Starring: Dan Stevens, Sheila Kelley, Maika Monroe, Brendan Meyer, Lance Reddick, Leland Orser, Joel David Moore, Tabatha Shaun, Ethan Embry
Directed by: Adam Wingard
Synopsis: A soldier introduces himself to the Peterson family, claiming to be a friend of their 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.
I have to say The Guest was, despite being extremely stupid in places, actually really good fun. Normally a dumb action film would have me running for the hills, but there is one key thing that made the second, over the top, half of this film enjoyable. It knew it was stupid. It’s tongue was firmly in it’s cheek. It was camp fun.
When a young soldier called David turns up at the door of the family of another soldier killed in battle, professing to be his friend, he is swiftly taken in and treated like a hero. The parents of the dead soldier are so upset about their son, that they are willing to accept this stranger and anything even slightly odd about him. Their kids Luke and Anna are a bit more inquisitive. David follows up his integration with the Peterson’s by seducing all of Anna’s friends, as well as getting Luke on his side by giving some bullies a vicious beating in a bar. But the more Anna looks into David’s past, the more it becomes clear that he isn’t who he says he is.
The first half of the film, where we the audience are also unsure about David and his motives, is the best bit. The second half film makes way for a more straightforward and dumb action movie as I said before. It’s saving grace is the fact that it is knowingly dumb. It takes every cliche in the book (including a showdown at the High School Halloween Dance, complete with scary dolls and hall of mirrors) and just enjoys messing around with them.
Dan Stevens, who is apparently in Downton Abbey, is a cross between Ryan Gosling from Drive and Bradley Cooper. I dare say this film won’t be seen by enough people to make him a star, but it will be a good place to start a film career, following on from his Downton success. He does well at hinting who the real person behind David is, and clearly has great fun in the violent scenes.
The rest of the cast largely play second fiddle, although Maika Monroe does the whole ‘girl in slasher movie fights the baddie until the death’ kind of role well. The atmospherics were good, especially the end, and the last shot made me smile a lot!
The Guest will not garner amazing reviews, and may not even garner a huge amount of views, but as a genre film it was a lot of fun, and the fact it didn’t take itself seriously meant it got a much higher score from me.