Horror Film Review: The Guest (2014)

The Guest Dan Stevens Adam Wingard Downton Abbey

Director: Adam Wingard
Starring: Dan Stevens, Maika Monroe and Brendan Meyer
Run time: 99 minutes

You may or may not know, that Adam Wingard is currently a top contender in my mental “Greatest directors of the last X years”, which you may not agree with, but fuck you. His segments in VHS and The ABC’s of Death really surprised me and made me laugh – something that horror does not offer, unless it’s intentional and then it’s usually just cheesy or stupid-funny. Then there was You’re Next, that finally offered a deeper meaning to me – I was overtly pleased that Wingard allowed a female character not to be the regular dumb blonde with big tits getting stabbed in the chest, but instead, a fairly average looking woman who does the stabbing herself. So obviously, I’ve been waiting to see The Guest since day one.

After the tragic and devastating loss of their son Caleb in the war, the Peterson family are more than welcoming to the handsome and awfully polite David – a fellow soldier friend of their son, who unexpectedly shows up to inform them of Caleb’s last words to them all. However, as deaths start coincidentally happening here, there and everywhere, it soon becomes apparent that David might not be the type of guy you’d want sleeping in your spare room.

Wingard has this fantastic way of illuminating his films with this 70s thriller atmosphere, that is a challenge to find in most modern films. How he does this is unbeknownst to me, although I do believe it may be due to the slow and brooding atmosphere, preferring the subtle and sinister to those films which try to fill every second in a film with suspicious scenarios and loads of action. Another contributing factor is his sly use of humour that is often overlooked, but manages to sneak its way into inappropriate conversations. The most thrilling part of a thriller is not always the part where we solve the mystery, it’s the gradual build to the climax that makes your palms sweat and your eyes extrude.

Those of you in the UK will most likely know Dan Stevens, but many of you across the pond won’t. Stevens is most known for his role in a show called Downton Abbey, which is a period drama about posh tofts and their maids. Stevens has gone from being known as a slightly podgy snobby twat to a buff psychotic solder. His performance showcases his incredible talent and also his absolutely RI-DIC-U-LOUS body (concentrating was not easy!), but it’s the way he convinces us to trust his seductive demeanour and polite behaviour that leads us and the Peterson’s down the wrong path. One minute I was disgusted at how deceitful, deranged and delirious he was, rooting for the daughter to somehow shoot him in the face, and then the next minute thinking he’d be a delightful young man to take home to your parents.

I wouldn’t say this film is the epitome of Wingard’s work, however he once again impressed me with an atmospheric thriller, pulling vibes from older works of film and the perfectly thought out casting. This won’t be for you all, but if you like a continued dose of ambience, then go book a cinema ticket.

Verdict: 4 out of 5

P.S. Ladies and gentlemen, this image is for you and might possibly (definitely) make you want to go and see the film.

Dan Stevens topless in The Guest. Thriller film by Adam Wingard

6 Replies to “Horror Film Review: The Guest (2014)”

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