A review: The Guest (2014)

I watched this film a while back, and again recently, and it still amazes me. Here is my  review of a film that is stilll in my mind. 

“The Guest”- Review

From the director and writer of “You’re Next” comes a psychological thriller that will keep you on the edge of yout seat and send your brain into overdrive during this exhilarating 1 hr. 37 minute ride.

After its world premiere on 18th January 2014 during Sundance Film Festival, “The Guest” was released to UK cinemas on Friday 5th September 2014. However, this quirky film has met a mixed response from audiences with an abundance of both favourable and apathetic reviews despite charting at number 8 in the box office, making £313,000 within the first three days.

Set in the bleak suburbs of New Mexico, “The Guest” sends chills down the spine as Downtown Abbey’s Dan Stevens steps into the role of the charming, dark and twisted protagonist David. David, a soldier recently discharged from action in Afghanistan, has lost his way.  After witnessing the death of his comrade, Caleb Peterson, David vowed to visit the fallen hero’s family and comfort them with the last words from his lips, hence David’s unexpected arrival at Mrs Peterson’s front door. However, as with any film of this genre, all may not be as it appears.

  This is a film full of twists, turns and scenes that will divide your own opinion as you find yourself warming to the one character you know you shouldn’t.  Just like the Peterson family, you are helpless, falling under the spell cast from the blue-eyed, charismatic sociopath that prowls the screen in front of you.  David slowly slithers his way into the Peterson’s family life by befriending each member of the household one by one, helping simple problems vanish and putting a dramatic stop to the continuous bullying of the Peterson’s teenage son. The speed at which he operates means there is no let up for the audience. A true blink and you’ll miss it film. As the narrative swiftly progresses  it becomes increasingly sinister as David’s back story begins to unravel Continuing to shock and tear your mind apart, the film begins to slow down while some subtle but intricate details start to emerge. Not before too long the narrative gathers speed and sends viewers through a twisting, emotional roller-coaster one final time in the most beautifully filmed climax I have seen.

Supported by a cast of reasonably unknown actors such as Maika Monroe, who only made her acting debut in 2012 with the film “At Any Price”, and Brendan Mayer who is best known for his role in the children’s television show “Dinosapian”               

. Mixed with a multitude of technical pleasures such as the long forgotten retro-thriller soundtrack and the minimalistic use of special effects this film, in my opinion, has earned its self a respectable place in the box office charts. I feel that this film deserves more recognition then it is currently getting.  Although, the acting within this film is not the absolute best.  But on the other hand it is not the absolute worst either. It is realistic and believable enabling the audience to empathise with the characters. This also means that the audience has the chance to connect and relate to some of the more mundane aspects of the narrative such as falling in love and coping with teen drama.

Dan Stevens has done an excellent job in the portrayal of such a complex, emotionally torn character that deep down inside truly wants to help the grieving family but due to the cross he bears he is firmly halted in his attempts, despite his good intentions, forcing him to work with the devil inside of him. This type of role is a world away from where Stevens is commonly seen, strutting around the lavish sets of “Downton Abbey” and considering that, I think he has adapted well, proving himself to be a versatile actor.

This film was directed by and edited by Adam Wingard, the creator of horror movie “You’re Next” which was released last year. “You’re Next” was very popular at its time of release but again, it was met by several poor reviews.  It seems strange to me that both of Wingards’ latest films have been received in a way that divides the audience and I cannot decide whether or not this is a positive reflection of his directing skills or a negative one. It is clear however, that this film was created on a low budget.  This can be seen through the basic use of SFX and the lack of big name, Hollywood stars. Lance Reddick, who has starred in the successful American television shows “Lost” and “Fringe”, is the most recognisable actor.  Even though this film has been created on a low budget I believe that it has not hindered the film in any way but it has enhanced the film. “The Guest” does not rely on over the top, state of the art special effects or any A list celebrity to carry the film and draw an audience in. It is the intricate plot and the amalgamation of old school horror and 21st century ideologies that give this film its razor edge.

In my opinion, this is a great film and you can stream it on netflix now  



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