‘The Guest’ directed by Adam Wingard is a 2014 thriller movie that is very much underrated. With an under the radar ad campaign, it remains a cult classic without a cult following, one which I believe it deserves.Dan Stevens plays David, a quiet yet friendly ex-soldier recently returned from war. Deciding to drop into an army friend’s family home after his death to fulfill a promise of keeping an eye on them, the story develops that he may have more sinister intentions.
The atmosphere of this film is one that is apparent from the offset and yet remains strange and eerie whilst viewing. When I was first informed that this film had won awards for ‘Best Horror’ I was confused as to why it was classified as such. In retrospect, I can understand the unnerving nature of this film creates a fearful atmosphere. Yet despite this, it is deeply enjoyable rather than disturbed. The pacing of this film flickers between high-speed action to drawn out pan shots meant to confuse and intrigue you. This matches perfectly with the incredibly well put together soundtrack that is based on the female leads mix-tape, giving the film a more realist feel than if it was superimposed at all times. My recommendation would be Anthonio (Berlin Breakdown Version) for a taste of the atmosphere that the soundtrack brings to the table.
“Then bring a knife to school. If they take it off you and beat you up, you go around their houses at night and burn them down with their families inside. What’s the worst they can do?”
The casting for this film is also of great importance, simply because the performances were all brilliant, no-one stood out as much as Stevens, yet all brought a humanism to their characters. I especially appreciate that their looks suited the characters they were portraying and yet none stood out as unrealistically attractive, a problem many films have which can remove you from the story. As someone who loves and appreciates highly stylised films this one remains rooted in normalcy and yet each frame feels like pop art, or more accurately as though it could be an album cover. The directing allows us to enjoy each and every still, meaning even if the story doesn’t grab you this is a film that can be watched solely for the cinematography. However, I very much doubt many would have such a problem as this story is simple and yet unpredictable. Of course, the mysterious guest is not a new concept in cinema or literature, yet the likeability of David does add something new to the mix. Whilst most antagonists play the cruel but kind stereotype well David’s character emits a bad boy aura which leads us to root for him despite his actions later on. Rarely have I watched a film and been so desensitised to the violence because David is so rooted to the audience member. Now you may be wondering why I have chosen this film to review considering it has been 2 years since its debut. Having recently re-watched it I can honestly say I am upset with how little people have. This film is the diamond in the rough and I wish for it to have the exposure that it deserves. Fast past action, talented cast, engaging story and capturing visuals it really has the whole cinema experience down. With new films coming out every day it takes a film such as ‘The Guest’ to truly stick in my mind for an extended period of time and not get lost in the masses. I can say with confidence I do not see it leaving my memory any time soon.
If you have seen this film, let me know what you think below!
Side photo credit: Flickr/ Mats Edenlus