A soldier arrives at a family's house claiming to be a friend
of their son who was killed in action, but something isn't right.
The Guest (2014)
Directed by Adam Wingard
Written by Simon Barrett
Starring Dan Stevens, Maika Monroe, Brendan Meyer,
Sheila Kelley, Leland Orser, Lance Reddick, Tabatha Shaun
Subtlety is a dying art. These days, the horror genre is mostly remakes, gorefests, and borderline snuff films, with only the occasional risk-taker to keep purists coming back for more. Then there's films like The Guest, which utilize the best qualities of old school Hitchcockian horror and graft them onto an original thriller. The end result is an engaging film that hammers in the golden rule of never letting strangers into your house. Relative newcomer Dan Stevens leads this surprisingly good cast as one of modern cinema's most charismatic and likable psychotics in a film that doesn't quite revolutionize the genre, but certainly dares to bring something fresh to the table.
Stevens plays discharged soldier David Collins, who rolls up to the Peterson household claiming to be a friend of their son who was recently killed in action. He successfully worms his way into their lives by gaining the friendship of every member of the household. At first, you think this is going to be a heartfelt drama about a lonely soldier finding a family, but things take a hard left right out of the blue and turn The Guest into a genuine horror film complete with its own monster. The beauty of The Guest is how you're never quite sure what direction the story is going to go in until it's already there. It keeps you engaged no matter what, though most of that is due to Dan Stevens's incomparable charm.
The Guest is a happy surprise that kept me entertained from beginning to end. It has all the elements of a good horror film but uses those elements to trick audiences until the very end. I would've liked a bit more explanation into who David really is, but I guess then the mystery would've been ruined and he wouldn't have been a monster anymore. Adam Wingard continues an impressive career streak with this one. Here's hoping his next one is a winner too.