The Guest (2014) Movie Retro Review by Darrin Gauthier

Director: Adam Wingard
Writer: Simon Barrett
Stars: Dan Stevens, Sheila Kelley, Maika Monroe

Plot:  A soldier 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.
Running Time: 1 hour 40 Minutes

Rotten Tomatoes Scores: Critics  90%     Audience   69%

Why I watched it: This film had huge buzz from the genre community and as you can see from the RT scores critics really liked it. So being a genre fan I really wanted to see it.

Random Thoughts:  It took me awhile too see it but it was one I really wanted to check out, I kept hearing it was a different film, a genre mash up and even a throwback film. The one thing I will say it’s trick to put this into a particular categorize, I guess calling it a thriller is close, I’ve heard some people call it a horror film and I think one of the reason it’s a cult film is because it is really different, a lot of films have that said about them but The Guest is not a Hollywood film and it’s genre to it’s core.

What I liked: The big thing this film has going for it is Dan Stevens, he is great in this film and it’s a really hard part, what he has to play and what he has to do makes or breaks this film, he is the straw that stirs the drink. He’s charming, he;s funny he’s badass and the one thing he does in this film is he does bad things, stuff that a bad guy would do but he does it in such a way that you almost feel for him.  What I like that he does he never goes over the top, this character has a lot going on, he’s military and clearly he did things that changed him but he comes off as a guy just trying to do what he thinks is right.  He’s a solider with a mission.

The film isn’t as good as Stevens is but I will say it’s a pretty good attempt at playing with certain genres and certain expectations and spinning them on their ear.  This is a brave movie, I would call it a throwback it does feel like it could have been a late 80′s movies.  I don’t know if I would call it a mash up or a blend of genres to me this is an action/thriller but not done in the cliche paint by the number Hollywood way.  The pace of the film is really could at first it seemed like a slow burn but I realize it was the film setting up all it’s characters and i should say that even though I praised Dan Stevens I do think the cast is good and the script and direction is spot on as well.

I like that a lot of stuff happens off screen, you hear of things that are done and you just see reactions from the main cast.  The neat thing here is that the script doesn’t treat the secondary characters as plot points or potential victims they’re pretty fleshed out for secondary characters.  Even though I don’t consider it a genre mash up the film does go very heavy with the violence in the third act and that might take some people off guard.

What I didn’t Like:  I think Maika Monroe is the weak link of the film, her performance was alright so I’ll blame the character she didn’t seem to fit and I thought she was more plot driven to do things than character driven, her whole purpose was to suspect something wrong was going on and at times I felt she reached, sure she was right but she didn’t know that and it seemed forced, it was like the filmmakers made a decision that one of the family members had to doubt the Dan Stevens character and sure it makes sense movie plot wise but it didn’t seem to happen organically.

The tone is tricky here but i get that’s what they were going for but I’m not sure the big over the top battle worked as well as other parts of the film, when it becomes a shoot out and epic gun battle some of the character work kind of gets lost  and that’s too bad, for me I guess I wanted it to be a bit smarter and clever.  Also didn’t care that they kind of turned Maika Monroe’s character into a final girl, that was a reach and to be honest i wasn’t really cheering for her.

Final Thoughts: I’m glad I watched it and I was pretty sure it wouldn’t live up to the buzz it was a very watchable and entertaining  film and for my money this was a star turn by Dan Stevens.

Rating: 7/10

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