Quick Hit: Gleefully manic, this film will have you riding the edge and laughing out loud.
It’s interesting to note that we have recently been seeing a wave of good horror and good thrillers amongst the remakes in Hollywood. One of the things that I seem to have noticed is how self-aware many of these films are. They are not afraid to call out the shortcomings of the genre, shrug, and proceed to give you a film worth watching. The Guest fits into that category - a thriller that relies on viewers to know what is coming, and embraces it heartily and campily.
The plot is pretty standard. A man claiming to be a friend of a deceased soldier shows up to pay his condolences to the family. After the required suspicion, they invite him to stay. He slowly gains everyone’s trust, including essentially becoming a new big brother to a bullied younger brother. You know based on the camera’s movements, the music, and the cuts to a shady government agency that eventually we’ll find out that he isn’t quite the savior he seems to be.
And when it happens? Oh. My. Goodness. This movie goes ballistic (both literally and in the figurative sense of the word). The movie essentially knows that you have been waiting for a huge showdown, and it gives you that. What has previously been only a few moments of scattered violence becomes a bloody free for all. Does the plot dissolve a bit at this point into frequently cheesy lines and government mumbo jumbo? Yes, absolutely it does. But the film is doing that purposefully, and enjoying every moment of it.
Dan Stevens (recently of Beauty and the Beast) plays the lead role “David” (a generic name if I’ve ever heard one… haha) here, and is exceedingly excellent. He knows his role, and delivers his dialogue in a pert, playful manner. Even in scenes where he is meant to be terrifying, you can’t get past how much fun Stevens seems to be having. Maika Monroe, as the daughter Anna, does a pretty good job at showing the eventual discovery of David’s true self. For me, besides Stevens, I really loved Lance Reddick as Major Carver. He rocks the role of shady government agent (as anyone who has seen the excellent show Fringe should know), and plays it with all the gumption as you would expect.
Overall, I don’t think that this movie is something that everyone will love. The tension that builds is telegraphed, the acting of the side characters is pretty much a wash, and the violence is over-the-top. However, if you enjoy thrillers, and you enjoy fun movies that undercut their own genre, you’ll love this one as much as I did. I’m going to give the guest an “A”.
For more on this movie check out IMDB.
"All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy"