The Guest (2014)

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One thing I love about Adam Wingard that propelled him as one of my favorite directors working today, is that he loves to twist formulas. He did so with “You’re Next,” and he accomplishes the feat yet again with “The Guest.” His darkly comic horror film begs the question: What if you made friends with a super soldier who was practically Captain America? And what if instead of Steve Rogers, he was a psychopathic maniac with a relentless need to kill? “The Guest” asks that question by transforming Wingard’s villain in to an anti-hero who is at first the perfect guardian angel, but soon an unstoppable killing machine. Adam Wingard brings his A game once again, channeling a late seventies and mid-eighties aesthetic with a mesmerzing synth score that sets the tone for the wildly morbid events.

Steve Moore’s music is incredible, and he injects “The Guest” with the desired pseudo-eighties atmosphere that makes “The Guest” feel like a throwback without ever reducing the film to eighties nods. As well, Wingard’s impressive camera work keeps every shot a crucial device in understanding these characters, and reading how they will proceed next. Even the finale in the gym completely plays on the perception of surface monsters, and the alarming reality of everyday monsters. Star Dan Stevens is brilliantly cast in the role of David, an ex military man who arrives at the door step of an ex-comrade’s family, after being discharged. Insinuating himself in every nook and cranny of the utterly dysfunctional Peterson family, David is able to ingratiate himself within their bosom based on the connection to their son.

Their daughter Anna though is not at all taken with David, despite his attempts to befriend and then seduce her. When David begins getting to know the Petersons, he immediately begins to understand them and proceeds to enact a series of events that may or may not be what’s best for the family. They’re definitely a typical bitter family with a rebellious daughter, bullied son, emasculated dad, and put upon mother, all of whom unwittingly give David a chance to alter their lives drastically and by any means necessary. Dan Stevens is stellar as the film’s resident wolf in sheep’s clothing. He commands a film filled with strong performances, and doesn’t just win over the people he’s obliged to be in the favor of, but he can win over the audience, too. In his mind, his work is necessary and when there are complications, he reaches self destruct mode for self preservation.

He can change his moods almost instantly, turning from an everyman you want to be friends with, to a beast who you’ll want to run far away from as fast possible. Stevens presents so many dimensions to the character of David, even though he seems like a simple character when we first meet him. He’s sexually charged, socially comfortable, and can adapt to any situation, making him the ultimate villain. Maika Moore plays well off of Stevens as character who poses a threat to David the minute they meet, and catches on to his wiles and talent for manipulation before everyone within her inner circle. Adam Wingard keeps “The Guest” an enigmatic little amalgam that’s action, horror, slasher, and science fiction, with his own brand of dark comedy injected for good measure. “The Guest” is another top notch utterly fantastic genre entry from Adam Wingard that works hard to deliver audiences the unexpected.