Tuesday, 16 September 2014

The Guest

Adam Wingard may have made a name for himself in horror by now, but it certainly hasn’t stopped him from directing this psychological thriller. The Guest is slightly odd, slightly absurd and slightly brilliant.
Returning from the Afghanistan conflict, David visits the family of a dead comrade to offer condolences, but he is then invited to stay. However as time passes questions arise over whether David really is who he says he is. As you might expect, although this is not horror it does head in quite a dark direction for the majority of the film. But it manages to avoid straying away from thriller and becoming home-invasion-horror because of the frankly fantastic writing. It’s intelligent enough to support the violent thrills on offer and separate t from a traditional slasher horror film.
The main character of David really is a standout point though. There is a deep sadness behind it that would easily make you belief that he’s good. He is also so understanding and charming early on that you really want to believe that he is a good guy, the line between foe and saviour is thinned to a point of blurriness. The entire way that the character is written makes him a great anti-hero, and the portrayal by Dan Stevens only emphasises all of these great points. He fully conveys all of the emotions that you need to feel on behalf of the character, but also does a fantastic job of isolating himself to make sure that David never becomes too likable. Because at the end of the day he is supposed to be the enemy in one sense of the word.
The film involves a great deal of irony in the plot that runs in nicely with the main themes. It can be a bit bizarre at times, although, depending on how you react to odd performances in cinema then you should be just fine with it. Sometimes it borders on the absurd horror feel a bit too much, and it also risks making it really obvious that it is a B-movie. With more than one priority written into the plot as well it can feel muddled with the themes and motives. I would love to say it avoids all clichés but there are a few it unwittingly and nearly unnoticeably falls into.
But overall it offers a bit of satire and some genuinely heart pounding (if not a little cheap) thrills. The dark sense of humour is a useful asset as well. It’s not overused and is not completely necessary to the plot, but it does give the film a memorable quality that keeps you glues to it for the full 100 minutes. Like I said before the film does share a few B-movie clichés but it almost laughs at itself for them, it means that even if you cannot forgive them for it you can at least respect them for not trying to hide them. In some ways you only notice the flaws because the film has pointed them out.
At the risk of dismissing the thought of such an idea by declaring it now, as it is technically against the unspoken rules of this status. But I could really see this becoming a cult film in a number of years. It’s intelligent thrilling and darkly-humoured, all with that unbeatable feeling of nostalgic 80s B-movie qualities. What more does a future cult film need.

Result: 7/10

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