the guest | adam wingard | simon barrett | dan stevens | sheila kelly | maika monroe | military | action | mystery | thriller | united states | united kingdom | joel david moore | brendan meyer | leland orser | lance reddick | tabatha shaun | chase williamson | ethan embry
Film: The Guest
Director: Adam Wingard
Writer: Simon Barrett
Starring: Dan Stevens, Sheila Kelley and Maika Monroe
I’ll be honest here; I didn’t know a lot about this movie. I feel like I heard people talking about it on podcasts, but that might not be the case. This is one that I think is fringe horror, but it is done by Adam Wingard and Simon Barrett, who have done quite a bit in the genre. I do think this is borderline for sure.
Synopsis: a solider introduces himself to the Peterson family, claiming to be a friend of their son who died in action. After the young man is welcomed into their home, a series of accidental deaths seem to be connected to his presence.
As the synopsis states, we have the Peterson family. The mother is Laura (Sheila Kelley). She is the one that I believe meets David (Dan Stevens) first. He comes to the door, being quite shaky about what he is doing, but wanted to pay his respects to his friend’s family. It makes it harder to turn him away when he tells her that he was there as the son died. Laura let him in and he meets her husband, Spencer (Leland Orser). He seems reserved. There is also Luke (Brendan Meyer), their other son who gets bullied at school, and their daughter Anna (Maika Monroe). The latter is acting out a bit and doesn’t have a lot of direction in her life.
What makes things interesting here is that David is as good looking and charming as he is. He is respectful so Laura and Spencer like having him around. The latter is having issues at work getting promoted. David agrees to have a drink with the father. Mysteriously though, Spencer’s boss and his girlfriend kill themselves giving Spencer the promotion he’s been stressing over.
Did David ‘fix’ this problem? We do see how he affects Luke and Anna’s life. Luke has bullies that he helps the younger guy stand up to. He also goes to a party with Anna. It is there he learns that Anna is seeing Zeke (Chase Williamson) who isn’t great for her. He also gets to meet Kristen (Tabatha Shaun) who takes a liking to him. David meets Craig (Joel David Moore), a local drug dealer at this party who gets him in touch with Higgings (Ethan Embry). It is during this we see how dangerous David can be and the nightmare begins for the family he’s latched on to.
That will be where I leave a deeper look into the plot and introduction to the characters. Where I want to begin is with the villain of our movie David. I like how we get introduced to him. He is coming to pay his respects to this family. Now as a viewer, we have an idea of where this movie is going so, I’m already trying to size him up. If I’m looking at it just at what he is doing. It is a great thing. He seems upstanding and respectable. He uses terms that make him seem genuine. What I think works great for his character are the subtle changes. We hear weird things happening, but we don’t know if he is doing it. The tension slowly ramps up and to steadily show how crazy he is. I think that Stevens does well in disarming the family and then terrifying them.
The family is where I want to go next. I’m intrigued in that they feel normal. They are in a bad spot losing their son in the military. Laura and Spencer have lost their way. To be honest, if David doesn’t show up, they’re probably primed for a divorce. Anna is a waitress and doesn’t seem to have much drive to do much else. Luke has bullies to deal with, but if he gets out of this town, I think he could make himself into something. The area feels a lot like where I grew up to be honest. It is small and tight knit, where the military is one of the major options. I’d say that Monroe, Meyer, Kelley and Orser are all solid.
What I’ve been avoiding going into is the truth behind David. I don’t want to spoil things, but the government is involved. We’ve seen movies like this, so it isn’t doing anything new. I do wish they had shown a bit more on screen. There are quite a few, ‘did David do something here?’ moments. This isn’t truly a horror movie so that is why. It could fall into a fringe slasher film though once he snaps. I did like that Major Carver is Lance Reddick as he’s an actor who plays these types of roles well.
I think I’ve delved enough into the story. I’ll shift over to the effects and cinematography here. I’ve already said that I wished they did more on screen. Since this movie is geared more toward a wider audience, I get why we don’t. What effects we do get look fine. I’ll give credit here to Stevens. When he gets hurt, he shows the effects and not him being an indestructible soldier. Cinematography is used well enough here to help hide things, so I’ll give credit there as well.
Then the last thing I want to delve into would be the rest of the cast. Shaun is solid as the character, Kristen. She is attractive and a bit naïve, being blinded by how good-looking David is. I liked seeing cameos by Williamson, Moore and Embry. I would say that the rest of the cast is solid for what is needed and rounding this out.
In conclusion, I think this is a solid movie. It is an interesting one to make since we were in the thick of the Afghanistan and Iraq wars. Soldiers were both being vilified for heinous acts being done as well as celebrated when they were coming home. This takes David, who seems nice, but is truly a monster. I like the subtle approach to making us wonder if he is involved in things or not. It isn’t necessarily horror, so I would keep that in mind. We are more of getting an action, mystery and thriller type of movie. I’d say this is still worth a viewing though, especially since we have a solid cast. This is above average for me. Just lacking some of the elements I need to go higher.
My Rating: 7 out of 10