Adam Wingard may be heralded as one of the most successful and promising young upstarts of horror, but it’s clear he has more up his sleeve. The Guest is a throwback to another time – a time when any number of movies about creepy neighbours, babysitters, distant family members would come into the homes and lives of an innocent family and slowly unleash terror. The Guest is many things, horror included, but it also has plenty of action, uncomfortable laughs, tragedy, knowing nods to past classics, and some great performances.
The Guest sees a mysterious young man paying visit to a grieving family. Their son was a soldier but lost his life in Afghanistan, and the man who stops by introduces himself as a soldier and friend of their son. He has come to help look after the family, knowing they would struggle if their son was killed – he is the model guest, sweet, helpful, and interested in helping out any way he can. As is the case with such films, David (The Guest) isn’t being entirely honest and eventually suspicion creeps in leading to the twist and thrilling climax.
Although the story follows the usual expected plot for such films – nothing I’ve said above is really a spoiler (what follows may be spoiler territory) – though the twist is not what you’d expect, almost sci-fi in nature. The twist is fine and explains David’s various skills, but doesn’t really make sense. After all the good things he does for the family I don’t buy that he would be forced to kill them – it’s the fact that he seems so kind and goes over and above for them that makes the final act more ludicrous and tragic. It doesn’t harm the film much, just makes it less credible. Apparently there had been additional scenes which further explored David’s background but the director preferred the ambiguity. In the hands of a lesser director or worse cast it could have been a more noticeable problem, but Stevens gives a career best performance, Monroe is solid as always, and everyone else performs well. While this eventually becomes like a slasher movie, its roots are more firmly in the thriller genre. The action scenes are swift and often brutal, not overly bloody and more akin to something like Die Hard. It’s a film which most genre fans will enjoy and doesn’t suffer from dipping its toes in multiple pools.
Let us know in the comments what you thought of The Guest!