The writer-director duo of Simon Barrett and Adam Wingard (You’re Next) return with this action-thriller about a mysterious visitor, who is not all that he seems. One day, the Peterson family is visited by a man named David (Dan Stevens), who claims to be a friend of their deceased soldier son Caleb. While Caleb’s parents and brother Luke (Brendan Meyer) welcome David into their lives, Annie Peterson (Maika Monroe) becomes suspicious of this guest in their home. As it quickly turns out, there is much more to David than meets the eye.
After the crowd-pleasing success of the home invasion thriller You’re Next, Simon Barrett and Adam Wingard go in a different direction with their follow-up. The Guest is an action/horror hybrid, which comes across as a mix between The Terminator and John Carpenter’s Halloween. The John Carpenter-vibe of the film is assisted greatly with the The Guest’s excellent synthesizer-based score, which gives the film a real 1980s vibe to it.
The plot of the film is built around the performance of Dan Stevens (Downton Abbey) as David, who has a quite charming exterior, but is really quite robotic with his actions. The Guest leaves it ambiguous, right up until the climax, whether or not this mysterious stranger is friend or foe. In addition to the great lead performance by Dan Stevens, the film features a memorable supporting appearance by Lance Reddick as military police officer Major Carver, who is the guy with all the answers about who David really is.
It’s hard to classify The Guest under a single genre, since it has a bit of everything. The film features a bit of a slow first act, as David introduces himself to the Peterson family and comes off as a pretty charming guy, even having some flirtations with Annie. The film then becomes a bit of an action film, as David demonstrates how capable his is at fighting. Towards the end of the film, The Guest moves into a more horror direction, helped greatly by the setting of a Halloween dance. All throughout The Guest, the action and horror is punctuated by dark humour, which usually stems from the very robotic and matter-of-fact way David reacts to situations.
Altogether, The Guest turned out to be a pretty fun film. The film is most definitely a sign that Simon Barrett and Adam Wingard are moving up in the filmmaking world, moving from their independent horror roots to more mainstream films. It will be interesting to see what this duo accomplishes in the years to come.
8 | LIKED IT
The Guest opens today at the Scotiabank Theatre in Toronto