The Guest (2014)

Action, Mystery, Thriller
Dan Stevens, Maika Monroe, Brendan Meyer, Sheila Kelley
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.
Boasting enough intelligence to bolster its darkly violent thrills, The Guest offers another treat for genre fans from director Adam Wingard.
  • Picturehouse Films Company:
  • R Rated:
  • IMDB link IMDB:
  • 05 Sep 2014 Released:
  • 06 Jan 2015 DVD Release:
  • $0.3M Box office:

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My brain hurts5/10
OK, I gave it a few hours before I posted this because I thought I might have missed something. Maybe it is like Pulp Fiction where it seems like a disjointed mess, but when someone tells you the key suddenly it slots together and makes sense. But it isn't. It is just a confused mess.

It does homage some 80's movie styling, right from the opening credits there is a hint of something between Halloween and the Wraith. The music is good.

But then the holes are huge. The story doesn't make sense! He turns up and they just take him in. Once the daughter figures out he is a fake everyone just ignores it. It turns out he is 'just' some random psychopath but part of his problem is that he kills anyone that knows who he is? Half a dozen trained soldiers turn up but are completely incompetent to the point that my girlfriend was complaining about their lack of basic soldiering skills.

And what was with the weird tilting guns when turning corners thing that they were all doing?

And of course he survives at the end and none of them can count to three when removing the bodies? Really?!
A fun and self-aware thriller; retro without being old fashioned7/10
I've never watched Downton Abbey, but I'm guessing that Dan Stevens deliberately sought out very different roles after leaving the show. The Guest is the perfect advert for his abilities. He's convincing as the mysterious but charming visitor and equally capable in moments of action, suspense or humour. I hope the right roles come along for him as he's entertaining to watch and has got everything required to become a major star.

The plot unfolds in a fashion that renders a summary both unnecessary and unwanted if you're planning to see this, but after the initial set-up it progresses at a decent pace and with escalating tension.

A special mention is required for the soundtrack. The electronic score is one of the film's major strengths and is perfectly judged.

An entertaining and self-aware mix of action, suspense and dark humour, the Guest has a retro feel without being old fashioned (a quality that is encapsulated by the score), and features decent performances.
A highly entertaining 80's style action thriller8/10
I thought Wingard's last effort You're Next suffered from too much hype and it didn't entirely work for me. Now he returns with an action movie of sorts with some slasher elements thrown in with The Guest and this is a home run. It is a slick and entertaining action thriller that hearkens back to the same kind of movies from the 80's with its own modern touches along with a great soundtrack and a great performance from Dan Stevens.

Good: Dan Stevens is the glue that binds this movie together. He exudes vulnerability and charm that you just can't help but like the guy and yet he still retains some sinister vibes underneath that smiling exterior. He knocks it out of the park and when things amp up he delivers on that front also. I really like the family in this movie. They were all likable and I was concerned for their well being which isn't something that a lot of these movies tend to successfully pull of. Maika Monroe turns in a strong performance. The direction is very slick and it has a nice atmosphere to it. The action is swift and hits hard without going too over the top. The music is another plus with its 80's style synth pop that makes every scene that much more enjoyable.

Bad: The movie never truly surprises with its twists and turns and it is a pretty straightforward thriller.

Overall, it doesn't do anything new, but it does so in style with great performances, slick action, and an awesome soundtrack.
Oh Cousin Matthew...7/10
So a guy who claims to know your dead son turns up at your house one day. He seems nice and looks like that bloke off of Downton so you let him stay for a while... That is pretty much all I knew about this film before I went to see it. What follows is an enjoyable thriller with laughs aplenty and an excellent central performance from Dan Stevens (more on that later).

The plot, at the end of the day, is fairly nonsensical and there are some troubling loose ends that I found a little unsatisfactory. I can't say that any of the story is particularly surprising or original but what does that matter when everyone making it and everyone in the audience seems to be having so much fun? The cinema I was in was probably around half full and while there was nobody in full-on hysterical laughter, there was a satisfactory amount of appreciative chuckling (me included).

I feel that the majority of my enjoyment of this film should really be credited to Dan Stevens in the main role. His character is charming, pleasant and helpful and yet strangely sinister and unsettling from the outset and he plays it absolutely perfectly. You can't help but like him even though you're not sure that you should. Apart from a smallish role in "The Fifth Estate", I am only familiar with Stevens from Downton Abbey and his role in this couldn't have been more different from both of these. I look forward to seeing how his career progresses but this was an excellent example of his versatility as an actor.

Overall a good Saturday night out at the cinema but I can't imagine it is the kind of classic film I would watch again and again.
A Total Mess5/10
Imagine an episode of something as nuanced, understated and gripping as an episode of Homeland gradually turning into something as darkly humorous and comic book-esque as an episode of Dexter. Throw in some action set pieces and I think you would not be far away from what this is.

It starts out well. A mysterious man turns up at the house of his slain comrade and offers touching words to his family, winning them into his confidence one by one, though, in truth, their grief makes them easy prey. It continues to build well when he sorts out the son's high school tormentors in a way that will have you cheering. At this stage, his cover story that he cares about the family is still plausible, but he is clearly someone with the capacity for extreme violence. The acting is uniformly excellent.

However, in a bid to procure a large amount of firearms, he murders the arms dealer he is buying them from. The body count then starts to build implausibly quickly when the man who is standing in the way of the father of the family's promotion is also found conveniently dead.

The actors are excellent, as I say, but even they seem progressively unconvinced by the story when some covert government unit turns up to claim The Guest. Apparently he was part of some kind of experiment which went wrong, but details on this are very sparse.

The finale is camped up in the extreme and in the style more of an 80s B Movie. Which would make sense if the first half was anything close to that type of film, but instead you are just left scratching your head.

There are good moments, the acting is great, but don't be suckered in by the high ratings. This is not essential viewing. If you want a popcorn flick on a Saturday night this is okay, I guess, but that's all.