Monday, November 17, 2014

[Review] The Guest

After delivering the great You're Next, a fresh angle on traditional slasher/home invasion horror, Director Adam Wingard brings on The Guest, another clever and enthralling genre hybrid piece.

Laura (Sheila Kelley) is a mother mourning the loss of her son, Caleb, who was killed in Afghanistan. Within the first two minutes of the film, there's a knock on the door. The guy is David (Dan Stevens), a recently discharged comrade of Caleb's who promised to deliver a message. Laura invites him to stay as a guest, but there's definitely something wayward and mysterious about him. He gets acquainted with the other family members and begins helping them with various "problems." Given the film's thrive on unpredictability, I'm just going to leave it at that. But I will say: Shit gets insane.

The Guest opens with some '70s and '80s horror odes--The Exorcist font, the jack-o-lanterns, and the John Carpenter-esque camerawork and music cues. But this isn't a straight on horror film, per se. Instead, it's more like a violent suspense thriller operating within horror aesthetics. It's as if Drive got into a car crash with Halloween. Even considering all of its mixings, the film is expertly cohesive in tone, rendering a generally dark and serious situation that turns out to be a whole lot of fun to watch.

Dan Stevens is extremely charismatic as this tough, ruthless, and deceptively polite character. The actor has all of the makings of a multidimensional star. The script is tight and nicely paced, building to an explosive climax with a wild twist. There's a lot packed into 90 minutes, but it never feels overcrowded, and none of it overstays its welcome. Although, the family might disagree.


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