If I’m being completely honest about The Guest, I wouldn’t have known about this film had my friend not shown me the trailer. This passed me by largely unnoticed. It’s not that surprising either when considering the cast being largely unknown and directed by Adam Wingard, most noticeably known by You’re Next and certain segments in the horror flicks V/H/S (1 and 2), of which I don’t usually watch as I find horrors predictable and (for me) boring.
Anyway, the trailer intrigued me and seemed to be going for the thriller genre of the psychological area. The Guest preys on the fact that mothers sometimes don’t see their children return from war, and that’s how the film begins. With a normal family home, however, the mother begins crying when she is alone due to the memory of Caleb, her son who was killed in action. David Collins (Dan Stevens) comes a-knocking and states that he was with Caleb when he was dying and was told to tell Mrs Peterson (Sheila Kelley) that he loved her up until his last moment.
David, who instantly charms Mrs Peterson with his charismatic behaviour and great hair, is then told to stick around for the sake of the family and that he could possibly help out, and the film flows like a familiar pattern. Including the father not liking the idea of having David in his house and him teaching self defence to the drawn out teenage cliche of having the younger boy of the family being bullied in school. Admittedly you can probably guess the rest of the actions that David gets up to around the Peterson family. However, what is different is, he affects the family in different ways.
At this point, I must specify that I will start to include spoilers into certain areas. Like this one: basically about David affecting the family. In a drunken conversation Mr Peterson (Leland Orser) states his dissatisfaction at a person making regional manager before him due to his education, David ends up fixing this problem, as Mr Peterson’s regional manager is found dead supposedly overdosing on medication, a while later in the film.
Unfortunately for the film, this is where it starts to get messy as David interferes further with the Peterson’s family’s issues and a government agency getting involved in trying track down David after Anna’s (Maika Monroe) discomfort of David. He goes AWOL, killing people like it’s nobodies business (which is literally what he tries to make it). The best to describe this film is up until the point where David is being tracked by the KPG (The government agency) that it’s a thriller that quickly descends into a slasher flick, with the unholy amount of deaths (some needless may I add). Not forgetting the film becoming highly confusing as to why David is the way he is, it’s only partly explain in a sentence or two uttered by Major Carver (Lance Reddick) that it’s down his neurological system, but I felt that wasn’t enough of an explanation and the lack of depth left me feeling confused.
Apart from the typical storyline and what not, the acting was surprising. I enjoyed the seamless transition between being a nice, charming and charismatic but coy guest to a clinically strange psychopath staring into the camera lens, probably the best being when he speaks to Anna after she blurts about the real David Collins being dead. His action scenes, like the bar fight scene was excellent and an enjoyment factor to the film, however, these scenes seemed to be very far apart from each other. What really worked well was the synth soundtrack that accompanied the key scenes throughout the film, including the climatic scene at the Halloween ball.
For me, the film was surprising. My expectations weren’t very high considering I hadn’t even gotten a chance before seeing the film to read around about The Guest. That being said, it was enjoyable, up until the last half hour, when things get confusing and rather ridiculous, however enjoyable the action scenes were. This mix of ridiculousness and a largely guessable framework to the film let the film down considering the acting of Dan Stevens was excellently terrifying at times and the excellent use of soundtrack was the plus points of the film.