The Guest Review: The Anti-Movie of the Year

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Chances are, if you’ve been awake anytime past 1980, you’ve seen a movie with a similar premise to The Guest. A seemingly pleasant loner is taken in by a family before their new friend wreaks havoc on their lives. But director Adam Wingard knows you’ve seen his movie before, which is why this version is laced with in-jokes, an over-the-top tone, and a killer retro heavy electronic soundtrack.

The Guest doesn’t shy away from its ridiculousness at any point in its slightly overlong runtime. From the second the title card abrasively appears on screen after a short shot of someone running, we know we’re in for something a little off-beat.

Then, once the mysterious David (Dan Stevens) hilariously shifts his facial expression from warm to sinister the second he’s left alone, The Guest suddenly becomes so unpredictable. While the plot hits all the beats you would expect it to, the delivery and the self-aware humor make this one most fun indie movies of the last few months.

This isn’t a movie you go to for the performances, but Stevens is the perfect blend of over-the-top and actually menacing. Without him, the film’s satire and tribute might not have meshed so seamlessly.

The family that takes him in in more of a mixed bag. Maika Monroe, playing the teenage girl that never trusts David, is stuck with the emotional scenes that naturally have to exist simply to move on to the next over-the-top sequence. Sheila Kelley, playing the mother, doesn’t seem to be clued in on the tone. But then Brendan Meyer and Leland Orser, playing the son and father, respectively, are absolutely perfect.

That said, by its very nature, this film isn’t going to make a huge impact other than being really fun and well-made. It’s clever and exciting, but there isn’t much significance beyond its send-up of the sub-genre it belongs in. But it is a very good send-up. For that, The Guest will be remembered, but there is no emotional connection. And it shouldn’t have one. But that does put it below the great films that do have one. Grade: B+

By Matt Dougherty



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