You Gotta See This: The Guest
Stars: Dan Stevens, Maika Monroe, Leland Orser, Brendan Meyer, Shelia Kelley, Lance Reddik, Chase Williamson
Rated R for strong violence, language, some drug use and a scene of sexuality, 100 minutes, Action/Thriller
From the makers of the Horror/Slasher You’re Next, which I hated, comes a movie that I actually really liked. I’d seen The Guest around but only looked it up when I found out that co-writer/director Adam Wingard would be doing the live action Death Note movie and figured it would be presumptuous to think this was bad based on one movie I’d seen of his. And I’m glad I’m so darn open-minded.
David shows up to the Peterson’s, unannounced, and claiming to have known their recently deceased son, who has been fighting overseas. He seems like the perfect sort of house guest; cordial and friendly, helpful and sincere. But the longer he’s there, the stranger things get and David might not be all he’s made himself out to be.
So the description is vague, sure, but the trailer is right there. Watching this movie with any sort of clue as to what you’re getting into will change the way you view it anyway so I would recommend skipping it all. One thing I can tell you to prepare you is to just go with it. The movie doesn’t quite keep a consistent tone but only in the sense that what seems like a mystery/thriller can just as soon shift to action and/or horror. It works well I think, you just sort of need to feel it out and accept what’s happening. I say this because a lot of great movies are passed over because it doesn’t match audience expectations and they’re immediately turned off to it.
I can understand to a point, but a great story isn’t going to give you exactly what you’re hoping for, it’s going to serve its own purposes and hopefully they’re received well. I don’t want to paint The Guest as something that’s going to file in line with Gone with the Wind or Saving Private Ryan, but it’s definitely got its audience.
The soundtrack to this movie is cool too. That’s a single track in the link, but you’ll get the idea. I was reminded of Drive but a friend said it first so I might have just been influenced by her but it came to mind all the same. The 80s vibe is only completed by a supporting character being played by Maika Monroe, who you may have seen in It Follows, which also calls back to the 80s for its ominous tunes.
I really like the main character, “David”, and the actor that plays him Dan Stevens. Pretty sure the first thing I saw him in was 2014’s A Walk Among the Tombstones and he played his part well enough, though Liam Neeson is the main event of course. I also know him from this video which comes to mind every time I see his name somewhere and push it out of my head that Dan Stevens is an actor, not a 70s Country singer.
As for the movie itself, like I said, I don’t really want to include things that would give the whole movie away, I just want to get it out there that it’s worth watching and it’s on Netflix now. So often we get movies where what happens in the story is [Fill in the blank here] but the ending always “has” to come to a clean and concise ending, bad or good.
But this movie kinda sorta just does what it wants and I appreciated it. I didn’t know what was going to happen next (for the most part) and didn’t know what David was going to do, given the number of times we’re given a slow motion zoom on David’s intensified expression after having a pleasant conversation with the family he’s staying with, doing a subtle 180. Every time though would remind me of scenes from Drive or Only God Forgives where we’re given enough time to run through twenty different thoughts about what’s going on in this guy’s head. “Is he crazy?” is a reoccurring question.
So check it out, it’s worth the time. Though I’m still hesitant to rewatch You’re Next, because I just really wasn’t into it, Ive got some faith that a live action Death Note wouldn’t be horrible.