Star – Dan Stevens
Genre – Crime Drama
Run Time –100 minutes
Certificate – 18
Country – USA
Amazon – £1.47 DVD £5.99 Blue Ray
Awards – 3 Wins & 11 Nominations
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With the end of high street DVD rental and online movie streaming taking over, I think it’s fair to say mid budget films like The Guest will probably not be made for much longer. If you have a movie package with Sky or Virgin etc you tend to watch the ‘big movies’ in your spare time and not scroll down to see what else is available. Because of that this year I have decided to buy most of my movies from Amazon Marketplace and then flip them at places like CEX or on the local market and invest that money in more stuff. A movie package is a bit too expensive for me. I don’t want to watch multiplex fodder and so online second hand movies at great prices allow me to pick and chose the move interesting and quirky ones to review and see. The Guest is certainly that.
The star of this retro American action horror is none other than Downtown Abbey’s Dan Stevens, doing a rather good Texas accent and a chap I once met playing cricket for a village team. He was rather good and a cricket nut and goes to a lot of Surrey matches. The film is from Simon Barrett and director Adam Winguard, who did the equally genre teasing ‘You’re Next’. It’s not like many movies you have seen before and enjoys mixing many genres. But for the ladies Mathew Crawley is in it and he has a six-pack so that should be enough, doing a rather good impression of Ryan Gosling, which is no bad thing.
• Dan Stevens as "David"
• Maika Monroe as Anna Peterson
• Brendan Meyer as Luke Peterson
• Sheila Kelley as Laura Peterson
• Lance Reddick as Major Richard Carver
• Leland Orser as Spencer Peterson
• Tabatha Shaun as Kristen
• Chase Williamson as Zeke Hastings
• Ethan Embry as Higgins
• Joel David Moore as Craig
• Steven John Brown as Mike
• Brenden Wedner as Ian
• Alex Knight as Mr. Lyles
• Frank Bond as Mr. Alston
• Jesse Luken as Drew
• Kelsey Montoya as Jason
• Justin Yu as Blair
• A. J. Bowen as Austin
• Chris Ellis as Hendricks
• Candice K. Patton as Sgt. Halway
• Chris Harding as Caleb Peterson
All American mom Laura Peterson (Sheila Kelley) recently lost her son Callum in Afghanistan and proudly flies the American flag outside her middle-class home with pictures of her son Callum proudly displayed all around the house. Those memoires are about to come flooding back when handsome and clean cut blue-eyed stranger ‘David’ rings her doorbell and tells her was is in Callum’s unit and a buddy in Afghanistan and come to pay his respects. Mrs Peterson is lifted by the likable young mans visit and he appears to be who he says and in the photographs with her son in the unit and so it’s not long before he is welcome in the Paterson’s home as a guest as he has time on his hands after laving the army.
Mom puts him in Callums old room, much to the concern of Callums hot sister Anna (Maika Monroe). Obviously she is weary of him at first and maybe he does have PTSD or something but soon draw to his blue eyes and six-pack. Dad Spencer (Leland Orser) is just happy to have another man in the house. Luke (Brendan Meyer), a 16-year-old high school soft more completes the Peterson clan.
David is a bit of a dude/badass and soon starts ‘fixing’ the families problems and making himself useful and so indispensable to the Petersons. He is great around the house and quickly deals with David’s bullies at school and Mr Paterson career promotion prospects. He is the ideal big brother for Luke and potential boyfriend for Anna. But something still doesn’t sit right with David and when bad things start happening in town Anna calls the army to check him out. She was right to and David is not quite as stable as he looks and mayhem is about to arrive as the school Halloween dance nears and Major Richard Carver (Lance Reddick) and his SWAT team arrive in town to bring him in.
The Guest has definitely got something but it hasn’t quite got enough of it to make this a cracker. Dan Stevens fun one note dark performance (think Ryan Gosling in every movie he has made) keeps the film tongue-in-cheek fun and sadistic as the peripheral unknown cast exaggerate his performance and so impact his menace some more. I didn’t watch Downtown Abbey but I’m guessing he took this movie to bury that typecasting of the posh boy, which most of our top British actors seem to be these days.
With its Cool electro retro soundtrack (think Terminator) the film is intentionally structured as a horror film with the pace of a thriller. In fact its multi genre at times. The first act is psychological drama with a slow build up to the second act as we move the film into action thriller territory in the and on to its stock horror slasher ending, the final Halloween sequence a real treat. There is black humor and twisted cliché aplenty and also surprise genre twisting that produce notable moments. It’s quite simply not a film that sticks to convention and likes to play with B-Movie staples.
I enjoyed it enough to recommend it to you and certainly not suited to kids as it’s very violent at times although not big on gratuitous sex and nudity. Although the plot is straightforward action thriller stuff it’s suitably disguised and some cool moments to be enjoyed, the ultimate antihero turning into anything but by the end as the bullets fly and the knife is twisted in the gut. It will be interesting to see what director Winguard comes up with next and encouraging knowing there are people out there still trying to make films like this. Top end 3/5 to watch out for folks!
Imdb.com – 6.7/10.0 (64,534votes)
Rottentomatos.com – 90% critic’s approval
Metacritic.com – 76%critic’s approval
-Audio Commentary –
Adam Winguard and Simon Barrett talk about their film.
- Deleted Scenes-
Flicks.com –‘If The Guest were a color it would be the neon blue of its title card: a little bit show-off, a little bit retro, but it'll definitely brighten your night’.
The Radio Times –‘One of the many pleasures of director Adam Wingard's tough, fun thriller "The Guest" is seeing Matthew Crawley -- er, British actor Dan Stevens -- serve up a mesmerizing star turn of psycho charm’.
Globe & Mail –‘The pleasures of The Guest lie mainly in anticipating how the next expected corner will be turned’.
The Mail –‘Dan Stevens] plays wholesome, aloof, seductive, dangerous, psychotic... He nails every single beat’.
Scene Stealers.com –‘Barrett and Wingard are more about exploring the wish-fulfillment than getting into any deep psychological warfare. Still, the screenplay knows just when to create more menace and move on, and it escalates the craziness right up to the breaking point.
San Francisco Times –‘This 1980s-style movie has wickedly pleasing aplomb. As fantasy escapism, it's brave, colorful and entertaining for audiences who can handle substantial carnage’.
Village Voice –‘A transcendent comic chiller, when The Guest's characters are in peril we actually care, and Wingard respectfully makes the kills clean and quick’.