Title: The Guest
By: Hollywood Film Office
Seen on: September 7
I wasn’t sure what to expect going into this; I hadn’t seen any trailer or read any synopsis or description, I just knew it was a thriller about a stranger coming to stay with a family and then things go south. And basically that’s exactly what happens, but it is packaged in homage to 80s slasher films with a pinch of science fiction/superhero films of recent and some truly epic creepy and campy acting.
I loved it.
Dan Stevens is mostly known for Downton Abbey, but he does a complete 180 in this film as the guest from the title. He is creepy in the best way: silently, calmly, and with a deadly stare and smile. It is jarring and entirely fascinating. And despite this being his first leading role in a film, he carries it really well.
His character, David, knocks on the door of a grieving family after returning from the war. The family have lost their son in the war and David claims to have known him. He has stories about their son and, while a little sceptical at first, everyone comes around to his charm very soon. They insist he stays longer than he planned.
But how long did he actually plan to stay?
On the surface, David seems like a very normal, charming, and grounded person. We get a peek of who he really is though when he picks up the family’s son, Luke, from school and asks him who the guys are that are bullying him. Luke points them out and David follows them to a bar where he continues to beat the crap out of them. All with a smile and a calm, lowered voice.
The father of the family talks to David about how he got overlooked for a promotion one evening and, surprise, a few days later the man that did get the promotion is dead. A friend of the daughter of the family smokes pot and offers it to her? Dead. The daughter’s boyfriend bothers her? Dead. And David remains cool and collected throughout all of it. He is seriously eerie.
It all comes to a head when the daughter, Anna, finds out David should have been killed in a hospital fire a few weeks earlier. Her phone call to the army base enquiring about him set off all kinds of alarm bells and a team of special ops is sent to detain him. Naturally, this doesn’t go the way they hope. David is extremely well-trained and takes out most of the special ops -without so much as a blink even when he gets shot in the leg – before killing the mother of the family when she threatens to give him away. He kills the father on his way to find the kids, a clean, steady shot to the head.
It ends in the school where Luke is being held in detention. Anna gets to him before David does, but David kills his way through the school to them and the Halloween maze they are building during detention and attacks them both. Anna manages to slow him down and Luke then stabs him in the chest and finally, David dies.
Or does he?
What makes The Guest great is that it never takes itself too seriously. It knows it’s homage to the old slasher films and it plays it up good. It’s a camp film, but it doesn’t apologise for it. It makes it all work together with a decidedly 90s feel to it. Don’t expect the next David Fincher, but if you want to be entertained and experience a nice little thrill about how freaking creepy that dude is, go see it and enjoy.
Did I mention David was really creepy?