Monday, September 29, 2014

Fantastic Fest 2014 Review: THE GUEST - Javi's Take

Directed by: Adam Wingard
Written by: Simon Barrett
Starring: Dan Stevens, Sheila Kelley, Maika Monroe, Brendan Meyer, and Lance Reddick
Synopsis: A strange man shows up to help a grieving family. 

If you've read this blog over the years, you might've heard us talk about YOU'RE NEXT and how much we love that movie. With its mix of humor, mystery, and horror, it felt like a breath of fresh air in the home invasion sub genre. Now director Adam Wingard returns with THE GUEST, as yet another fresh take on a sub genre. THE GUEST doesn't mess around, starts off strong, and only escalates the violence and the tension as the Peterson family find more and more about their seemingly normal guest, David.

To start off, Dan Stevens as David, kills it in this movie. David has all of the charm of a southern good-ol' boy with great manners and always calling women "ma'am". Not only that, but David's confidence is personified by seemingly being able to do everything from sweet-talking to lifting kegs like it's not a big deal. But when that charm is turned off it quickly turns into something more sinister. He really steals the movie, and it's exciting to think what Stevens will do with his career now that he's not DOWNTON ABBEY'S Cousin Matthew. 

The music is another high point here. During the Q&A, writer Simon Barrett mentioned that there's only music if the characters are playing a CD or during a party. This in turn gives the movie a much more "real life" feel since you're hearing what the characters are hearing. The music is all of this very dark new wave sound which feels slightly contrasting with the environment but, it also helps give it a much more epic and ominous. 

The script is insanely tight and well paced. At a 99 minute running time, it definitely felt like it was 30 minutes with the way the story just keeps on going. The family recently lost their son Caleb during the war, and given that they live in a small town, they can't seem to escape it either. Help comes in the form of David who is introduced in the first minutes of the movie as an army buddy of Caleb's who is fulfilling a dying request to take care of his family should he die. We get to know the various members of the family as David goes around trying help in let's say, unconventional ways. Of particular notice is a rad scene where David beats the living hell out of the bullies that hit the youngest brother, Luke.

THE GUEST is one of those movies that needs to be seen with a group of friends on Friday night. A Fantastic Fest audience was the one of the best ways to see it, but having a crowd will help with the experience. In what is another stellar entry into his filmography, Adam Wingard is one of the bit genre directors working today. His style is always honoring genre tropes from the past but they never feel cliche, and it all culminates into a fun and bloody movie watching experience. 

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