A charismatic soldier (Stevens), just back from Afghanistan, hits up the Stevenson household, proclaiming to be a friend/ex unit teammate of their deceased son, there on his behalf to support them. Of course; that's not “exactly” the case. All I'll say!
The dynamic duo (Writer Simon Barrett and director Adam Wingard) behind the excellent (well I loved it anyways) YOU'RE NEXT
come back to the genre fold with THE GUEST; a film I knew little about beforehand (purposely that is – trailers give away everything now of days – f*ck that noise) but one that I couldn't wait to elbow drop none the less due to the positive word of mouth it has been getting. So my day started with a THE GUEST screening and thankfully it started on the right uppercut!
THE GUEST reminded me of why I love movies! Its “retro” feel totally won me over. This one was part 90's thriller (Unlawful Entry style), part Cannon action film and part slasher. I had a stupid grin on my face throughout my sit down with it; enjoying every micro second of it. One of the high points for me was that I had no idea where the story was going; hence my one brain cell was stimulated non-stop throughout, trying to figure out what this one's deal was. I knew “something” was wrong with “soldier boy” but that was pretty much it. The road to discovery wound up being a clip paced, dark humor filled and violent stroll! Yeehaw! Speaking of the man with the plan; I had never heard of actor Dan Stevens before this film (upon some research, I found out that he's known for some British TV show called Downtown Abbey) but if this wasn't a star making turn, I don't know what is! With his photogenic looks, well oiled acting chops and charm, I was riveted to the screen every time Stevens was on. He managed to hit all the right notes here, conveying those shades of grey ideally. Yup his boyscout/psychotic performance was quite the tour de force and he pulled it off with gusto!
Stevens was well backed by Shelia Kelly who gave an affable show, the great Leland Orser who could never do wrong in my book, cutie Maika Monroe who put out an endearing mix of tough yet vulnerable (as all good Final Girl should) and young Brendan Meyer who was hugely convincing as the bullied kid that needed a haircut...bad! Running at 99 minutes, no time was wasted here with the chain of events kicking into high gear from frame one to not let up till the end credits. I'm trying to be SPOILER FREE; so bare with me; it was a total delight to witness our overgrown boyscout “deal” with the problems that arose around him. I could use this guy in my life! Like the poster says “He's here to help” and helped he did! Huge kudos go out to Adam Wingward for what he pulled off on a budget; his stylish shots and slick camera moves were on the money, tension was in the house and he tackled the hand to hand fights/enthralling shoot-outs like a pro. Chuck Norris would be “round house kick” proud!
I also dug that he set the movie during the Halloween season hence the Holiday motif was present throughout. Always a nice touch! You can't take the horror out of the horror fan, even when he makes an action/thriller. Add to all that a deliciously 80's like soundtrack (with bands like Love And Rockets, Sisters of Mercy and my fav being Annie's Anthonio), a striking "Tangerine Dream-ish" synth score by Steve Moore that made me think “I gotta own it”, some moments of hyper violence that that had me jump up with glee and you get one hell of a movie! Ballsy, trashy, funny and all around badass! I actually saw the film twice since and it still held up like a champ on a second round! It was actually funnier for me!
Any peeves? Nothing to whack anybody over. As the end credits rolled, I still had some unanswered questions. In fact when the last act kicked in, I was sure a twist was gonna come and give us “more” of the “why” and “how” but it didn't happen. Lastly; the first acts were so superior that the more conventional (specially in terms of the horror genre) last act didn't fully measure up. Don't get me wrong though, I was still mucho entertained by it and on the edge of my edge.
Simply put; THE GUEST rocked! It was definitely in line with my personal cinematic affinities and it slyly pushed my nostalgia buttons. Retro vibe, extreme violence, cool soundtrack (which I now own), crazy plot and an endearingly "out there" leading man! LOVED IT! Will it mesh with your movie likes? The f*ck I know! See it and find out! This Guest is welcome to my pad any day! GIVE ME A SEQUEL!
We get some grisly gun shot wounds, slit throat and mucho bodily harm. Not the gorefest that YOU'RE NEXT was; but brutal as f*ck.
We get one tit shot and the ladies and gay dudes get Dan Stevens shirtless.
THE GUEST made my day! It was akin to the films I grew up with. It gunned out a sweet concoction of stellar cast, compelling storyline, intriguing mystery, 80's music/score, bleak yuk-yuks and potent moments of extreme violence! If this movie doesn't make Dan Stevens a star, I don't know what will! Granted, I craved more answers as the end credits rolled and the last act paled in comparison to the first impeccable acts (even though it still delivered); but on the whole; I connected with THE GUEST's cinematic influences and I basically had a freaking blast with it! No other flick this year gave me such a good time! Highly recommended!
Look out for fun cameos by Ethan Embry, Joel David Moore and a mask from You're Next.
Dan Stevens was born in Croydon, Surrey, England, UK.