Director Adam Wingard and writer Simon Barrett have revitalized the horror genre with their exciting new thriller, The Guest.
Fans of Dan Stevens (Downton Abbey) will be more than pleased with the surprising new side he shows in this sharp, jolting, retro thriller. His insipidly charming good looks, accessorized with the all-American accent, are put to disturbing use. Audiences won’t know whether to fear him or root for him. His character, “David,” is almost like a suave Jekyll and Hyde. Even if you’ve never seen Downton Abbey, gentlemen and especially the ladies will be in agreement that Dan Stevens has never been better.
The Peterson family is suffering a great loss. The death of their son, Caleb, has set a somber tone in their household. When David (Stevens) shows up on their door steps, claiming to be a close friend of Caleb’s from the army. It’s almost as if they have received a gift from God. Parents, Laura (Sheila Kelley) and Spencer (Leland Orser) view David as the perfect guest. He is kind and helpful around the house. Even their youngest son, Luke (Brendan Meyer), is impressed by the polished soldier when he puts his military fighting to use against some violent high school bullies.
It seems that only Anna (the outstanding Maika Monroe), the Peterson’s brooding, teen daughter, senses something is off with her family’s new found house guest. Though David’s arrival has broken the cloud of mourning that had descended in their podunk, New Mexico home, a string of mysterious deaths occur during his stay. A suspicious Anna starts to wonder if David could be responsible.
Last year, Wingard brought us the ingenious You’re Next, which like The Guest, is a horror that calmly lets things escalate to a state of restless violence. Wingard and Barrett have admirably paid homage to the old-school slashers with their John Carpenter-influenced 1980’s styling. From their music, to their by the numbers outline that follows the rules of the usual scary movies. Plus, they have added a few secret ingredients that spice up the predicable horror flick recipe.
The Guest may be welcoming audiences to a familiar plot, but there is enough gusto in this story that makes for a surprisingly, hell of a good time!
On Blu-ray/DVD combo pack Tuesday, January 6.
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