Directed By Adam Wingard
Starring Dan Stevens, Maika Monroe & Sheila Kelly
David (Stevens) is the kind of guy you want to have over for dinner. He is kind and cordial when he shows up on the doorstep of the Peterson family, claims to be a dear friend to their son who died in combat and they welcome him with open arms. This stranger is allowed to stay in their home and become a part of their lives. Shortly after his arrival people begin to die and Anna (Monroe) wonders if there is more to David than he lets on.
A soldier on leave befriends the family of a fallen comrade, only to become a threat to all around him when it’s revealed he’s hiding dangerous secrets from his past.
Adam Wingard – the director behind You’re Next and the “Phase 1 Clinical Trials” segment of V/H/S 2 – certainly knows how to build tension and create an unsettling atmosphere. All of his films are situated in a hyper reality that is very similar to our world, but everything is just slightly off. The rules and physics of his worlds are similar enough to our reality that you are pulled in but you are never allowed to feel comfortable.
Featuring music from Clan of Xymox and Sisters of Mercy, the score and soundtrack give the film a driving synth rhythm that feels like something from 70s or 80s John Carpenter, with a healthy dose of Goblin thrown in for good measure.
Dan Stevens gives a stunning performance as David. He had to be both charming and intimidating and that’s a difficult tightrope to walk. If you lean to far to either side, the character would have been unbelievable. Stevens has the physical presence to intimidate most but he has that boy-next-door charm that would allow you to throw him the keys to your new car without thinking twice about it. We as the audience all know that David is not to be trusted, and that’s where Anna steps in. She is our voice. She is the one person who smells bullshit, and Maika does a great job in this role. She brings a surprising amount of humor to this otherwise bleak tale. She is our voice and our relief.
The film is clearly an indictment on what president Dwight Eisenhower referred to as the Military Industrial Complex but nothing about the film comes across as heavy handed or preachy. This is a film with a subtle but important message and the action/sci-fi elements make the medicine go down smoothly. Constant unquestioned military action is not patriotic; in fact I would go as far as to say its jingoistic and dangerous. Soapbox portion is now over, we can resume with the article.
The Guest is steeped in genre tropes but transcends any genre. In the same way Night of the Living Dead is a zombie horror film, this film is far more than conventional labeling. The Guest opens in theaters Sept 17th.