The Guest (2014): Death, Destruction and Downton Abbey

Film

MCDGUES EC003

Directed by: Adam Wingard Written by: Simon Barrett Starring: Dan Stevens, Sheila Kelley, Maika Monroe

The blurb says: A soldier (Dan Stevens) 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.

The verdict: I was a big fan of Wingard’s 2011 horror outing You’re Next, so when the trailers for The Guest appeared online I was intrigued to see whether he would be playing with another genre piece. Indeed, with You’re Next writer Barrett in tow, that is exactly what he does, with The Guest having a big helping of prime John Carpenter 80’s horror appeal to it.

Wingard brings a timeless feel to this tale of a charismatic home invader. As one reviewer put it, “what if Michael Myers took off his mask and turned out to be a pretty cool guy?”

Dan Stevens is excellent as the handsome, polite, new friend-of-the-family ‘David’, worming his way into their affections by turning up his megawatt smile. He seems so polite that even when things start turning distinctly murder-y you are sure he’s only doing it out of some warped sense of manners. Maika Monroe is also terrific as Anna Peterson, a Gwen Stefani-ed take on Jamie Lee Curtis’ Laurie, although this time her family are all home and don’t see the monster in their midst.

The latter half of the film does veer into the realm of the bonkers, and the explanation for ‘David’s’ actions is a little hokey, but Wingard and Barrett just about manage to pull it off without too much collateral damage, as they seem to know how daft it is.

The goth-electro soundtrack and colour palette are at times a little reminiscent of Drive, but that all helps elevate The Guest above being a diverting B-movie into something far more interesting.

Genre-savvy, full of suspense and with a couple of genuine make-you-jump-out-of-your-seat moments, The Guest is a neatly packaged modern horror tale.

7 out of 10

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