“You did the right thing. I don't blame you.”
The Guest had me sold at “From the director of You’re Next” because I absolutely loved that slasher film and vowed to watch any upcoming project from director Adam Wingard. Fortunately I didn’t have to wait more than a year, and The Guest came along. It may have not lived up to the hype, but it still was a fun stylized action thriller. Wingard knows how to blend genres effortlessly and despite having a familiar tone at times he delivers on the twists and switches gears on the audience. So despite borrowing elements from different movies, the way in which he blends them together allows for the film to feel fresh and unique. The Guest is heavily stylized and it plays out as sort of an 80’s retro film with stylized visuals and a fantastic electro score which helps build the tension. Even the font during the opening credits is reminiscent of those early 80’s films. The soundtrack along with Dan Stevens’s performance reminded me of Drive, another sort of retro 80’s movie. The Guest is an eerie and stylish film that builds tension so well during the first half of the movie that it makes it hard to shake off during the second half and leaves us expecting a little more. It is still a lot of fun and works as both an action thriller and a horror film accompanied with a small dose of ridiculous humor. The writer and director duo of Simon Barret and Adam Wingard are quietly turning into one of my favorite partnerships and I hope they continue to work together blending genres and stretching those familiar conventions into something unique and fresh.
Just as I couldn’t see You’re Next working without the superb performance from Sharni Vinson, there is no way that The Guest could’ve worked without Dan Stevens’s magnetic and cool performance. He is sensational and is a big reason why the buildup and the tension in the first half of the film worked so well. Stevens manages to be charming and menacing at the same time making it hard to guess what his real intentions are. The guy knows how to glare and smile really well. He has the chops to become a movie star. He plays Dave, a soldier who introduces himself to a family by claiming he was good friends with their deceased son. There is something suspicious about him, but he is so charming at the same time. The parents of the family who receives him are played by Sheila Kelley and Leland Orser, and their two children are played by Brendan Meyer and Maika Monroe. I didn’t really care for the parents in this film, but Meyer and Monroe deliver solid supporting roles. Monroe reminded me of a young Gwen Stefani and she is also someone I look forward to seeing in future films. Barrett knows how to write interesting main characters because he has made both Vinson and Stevens look great in their films. The Guest didn’t blow me away like You’re Next, but I still had a fun time with this blender of a film. The score alone is worth your time, and there was a moment halfway through the film where it is the actual score that announces the change of tone and structure that we are about to get.