The Guest begins with the intriguing premise where the charming and charismatic David (Dan Stevens) turns up out of the blue at the house of the Peterson family, announcing that he served in the military with their son, Caleb, and that he was with them when the young soldier died. Of course, anyone could say that, but his story checks out because he can be seen in a photo in the household where he’s pictured alongside Caleb.
Only intending to stay for a couple of days, he soon ingratiates himself into the family as if he’s replacing the son and brother they lost, looking cool as a cucumber and as if he’s too good to be true, while the family are lapping up every last Tom Cruise-style smirk as a measure of his true character. But then some bad stuff starts happening, people start getting all spooked out, and it’s one of those films where we know that he’s a bad apple, but the question is – how long will it take for everyone else to figure it out, and how many will have to suffer until they do?
Dan Stevens has a definite screen presence, and this British actor is already making a name for himself on the other side of the pond with recent hits such as Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb and A Walk Among the Tombstones, while also starring in the forthcoming The Ticket, The Cobbler – alongside Adam Sandler, and Criminal Activities, also starring John Travolta. Of course, TV viewers will also know him as Matthew Crawley from ITV’s Downton Abbey.
Commendation also goes to the ‘children’ of the family, Maika Monroe as 20-year-old Anna, and Brendan Meyer as her teenage brother Luke, Leland Orser will be familiar to E.R. viewers as the head of the family, with Sheila Kelley having more to do than him as the mother, and there’s a welcome appearance from The Wire‘s Cedric Daniels, i.e. Lance Reddick, as military bod Major Carver.
The Guest builds slowly with some neat sequences early on such as a well-directed bar fight, and some engaging directorial choices which make me feel like I’m watching a thriller made in the ’70s, whilst the occasional ’80s-like soundtrack makes for a great blend. Yes, there are some moments early on that feel a little on the predictable side, but those can be forgiven because of what else is on view, such as the right balance of humour, particularly in a scene which features ’90s track Because I Love You (The Postman Song) by Stevie B, one of those tracks which drove me up the wall with its incessant play in 1991 as it reached No.6 in the charts, yet I was in fits of giggles when it was delivered here (pun not intended).
Overall, for a number of reasons, which I don’t want to give away here as they’d be spoilers, The Guest, while it is a bit daft occasionally, it is sure to become a cult classic. And I’ve so got to get the soundtrack CD.
I’d also highly recommend You’re Next, from the same writer/director team of, respectively, Simon Barrett and Adam Wingard. It’s a slasher flick which may have a lack of tension – something which is brought to The Guest when required, but it makes up with lashings of gore that’s missing from any number of identikit modern horror films.
The film is presented in the original 2.35:1 widescreen ratio and in 1080p high definition and it looks absolutely stunning, whether bright daytime scenes or dark party scenes. It’s also well-directed throughout, bringing you a couple of those ’70s-type moments as I mentioned earlier, which is also reflected in the design of the title.
The sound is in DTS HD 5.1 and while it’s not a special FX film, it has great use of music on a regular basis, as I’ve alighted to already.
The extras are as follows and they’re all in HD, but unfortunately way too small in number:
- Deleted and alternate scenes (14:37): Seven of them here, and nothing that needs to be put back into the main film. An optional commentary track is available.
- Trailer (1:33): In the original 2.35:1 widescreen ratio. It gives away too much, so I suggest you watch this AFTER the film.
- Audio commentary: with director Adam Wingard, and writer Simon Barrett.
There are subtitles in English only, the number of chapters is a low and perfunctory 12, while the menu has the incidental music set to some clips from the film.
Sadly, Icon have included unrelated trailers BEFORE the main menu. I wish they wouldn’t do that. It just takes me back to the age-old days of rental video.
The Guest is released on December 29th on Blu-ray and DVD, and check out the clip below when Dan Stevens was on Good Morning Britain in September, promoting the film, and Susanna Reid asked him if he had to “beat off other actors” to get the role for The Guest! Ben Shephard can’t keep a straight face either 🙂
Running time: 99 minutes
Studio: Icon Entertainment
Released: December 29th 2014
Picture: 1080p High Definition
Sound: DTS HD Master Audio 5.1, Dolby Digital 5.1
Disc Format: BD50
Director: Adam Wingard
Producers: Keith Calder and Jessica Wu
Screenplay: Simon Barrett
Music: Steve Moore
David Collins: Dan Stevens
Anna Peterson: Maika Monroe
Luke Peterson: Brendan Meyer
Laura Peterson: Sheila Kelley
Spencer Peterson: Leland Orser
Major Carver: Lance Reddick
Kristen: Tabatha Shaun
Zeke: Chase Williamson
Craig: Joel David Moore
Reviewer of movies, videogames and music since 1994. Aortic valve operation survivor from the same year. Running DVDfever.co.uk since 2000. Nobel Peace Prize winner 2021.