USA / UK, 2014
Director: Adam Wingard
USA / UK, 2014
Director: Adam Wingard
After having seen it at the /Slash 1/2 together with a fantastic crowd that cheered and laughed their asses off, after buying the DVD just a couple days later and watching it three more times, I can now truly say: "The Guest" is a fucking masterpiece, and so far, the best movie I've seen this year. I never thought director Adam Wingard would be able to make another piece of awesomeness like his criminally underrated "A Horrible Way To Die", but with "The Guest", he and his regular screenwriting partner Simon Barrett, they have outdone themselves.
The storyline of "The Guest" is as simple as it is brilliant and gripping: David, a handsome and very polite soldier visits the Peterson family, introducing himself as a friend of their son Caleb who died in war, claiming he promised Caleb to help take care of the family. The Petersons are so delighted by him, they're allowing him to stay at their home as long as he wants/needs to. So far, so good. He treats the family well, helps the son sorting out school troubles, brings the daughter safe home from a party, saves the daughter's best friend from her violent ex-boyfriend - everything's peaches and cream! But soon, a series of deaths and deadly accidents start to happen, and it all seems to be connected to David...
While Wingard/Barrett's last film, the highly overrrated "You're Next", left me completely cold, "The Guest" overwhelmed me in a way I wasn't prepared for. I haven't seen so much coolness and badassness since "Pain & Gain" (yes, I adore that movie). "The Guest" is an 80s-like action thriller of bonkers proportions, at its core straightforward and slightly foreseeable, but done with so much heart, so much cleverness, so much style, you can't help yourself loving the hell out of it. It plays with horror tropes (especially from the slasher subgenre) and action-movie clichés, meanders around trademarks and elements from 70s/80s classics like "The Stepfather", "Halloween", "First Blood" or "Terminator", builds up an atmosphere that is unbelievably unique AND unbeliebably retro at the same time, and eventually manages to entertain you, to make you laugh, to rock you, to shock you, to thrill you and to make you scream "Holy Shit!" dozens of times.
One of the main reasons why "The Guest" is so fucking amazing is undeniably "Downton Abbey"-actor Dan Stevens. Seriously, I shit you not when I say that this is one of the greatest and coolest action movie performances I've ever seen. With the friendliness of a British gentleman, the stoic look of Ryan Gosling and the charisma of a pissed off T-800, Dan Stevens delivers an implausible, yet mesmerizing character that makes you giggle whenever he says "Yes, Ma'am" or "I'm sorry", and shit your pants when he suddenly looks at you as if he's about to eat you alive. Dan is the man!
More great performances by the beautiful Maika Monroe ("It Follows") who could be Hollywood's next big female star, Leland Orser ("Taken 1-3") as burnt out and slightly alcoholic family father, Sheila Kelley ("L.A. Law") as naive and gullible mother, super-talented youngster Brendan Meyer ("Tooth Fairy"), an extremely terrific Lance Reddick ("John Wick"), and the super-sexy Tabatha Shaun.
Cinematographer Robby Baumgartner (who previously worked on great films like "Léon" or "The Hunger Games") filmed the whole thing in a remarkably straight and unflashy way. No gimmicks, no shaky cam, just straightforward to the point. Excellent! More kudos to the splendid editing and especially to the entire magnificent-looking production design: fantastic lighting, gorgeous-looking sets, Halloween pumpkins everywhere and... seriously, the Halloween maze at the end is not just fucking awesome, it somehow also reminds me a lot of Tobe Hooper's "The Funhouse" (yay!).
Yet, the best thing about the "The Guest" is the music... holy fuck!
Next to a glorious 80s synth score by Steve Moore ("Cub"), there's tons of
techno-tastic electro stuff from Clan of Xymox ("A Day", "Cry in the Wind"), F.O.O.L. ("SaharA"), Front 242 ("Moldavia", "Sacrifice") or Survive ("Hourglass"), (almost) forgotten 80s gems from Love & Rockets ("Haunted when the Minutes Drag"), D.A.F. ("Der Mussolini", "Alles wird gut") or The Sisters of Mercy ("Emma"), and - best of all - Stevie B.'s tearjerker "Because I Love You"! Never again will I see a restaurant exploding without thinking about this song ;-)
"The Guest" rocks so fucking much, it's insane. Outstanding!
Oh btw, in several scenes, Adam Wingard pays tribute to his former movie
...and he also pays tribute to "Halloween III: Season of the Witch"!!