The Guest (2014) Directed by Adam Wingard. With Dan Stevens, Maika Monroe, Brendan Meyer, Sheila Kelley and Leland Orser.
From cult-horror director Adam Wingard, The Guest is a horror-lite-thriller about man (Stevens) visiting the bereaved family of a soldier killer in combat, claiming to be a close friend of their deceased son.
The star of the film, Dan Stevens, appears like a cross between Ryan Gosling in Drive and Chris Evans as Captain America – smooth and handsome, but with an unnerving amount of confidence that creates an early inkling of something not quite right. After meeting Mom, he’s gradually introduced to the rest of the family of four – quickly acquainting himself with each member.
After only a few minutes, it’s plainly evident we’re on familiar turf as the story sets about moving its characters into predictable plot situations. After Stevens, the elder sister of the family (Maika Monroe) is perhaps given the most amount of screen-time – styled as sexy college-girl bait for the antagonist, which is about the extent of our invitation to get to know her.
With its soundtrack, the film seems to ape Drive with an indie/electronic track selection, yet it feels a little inflicted. Where the songs in Drive were cool and complimented the scenes, it feels like The Guest is trying hard prescribe its own ‘cool’, which is where it partly comes up short.
While the execution is patchily good and the shot selections and camera work are fine, there is an abiding sense that it’s too derivative to embrace, leaving a hollow feeling. The finale devolves further still with a tacked-on ending, complete with the speculative sowing of franchise seeds – please no! Although Dan Stevens is good value in the lead role, don’t be surprised to find yourself comparing The Guest to much better films. 2.5/5