By Darin Skaggs
Adam Wingard’s The Guest is a grand accomplishment in filmmaking. It has a sense of fun, wit, tenseness and general discomfort. It takes from other genres, including thriller and some horror, and uses those aspects so well it makes for one of the more enjoyable, original films of the year.
Dan Stevens stars as David who pays a visit to the Peterson household claiming he knew their son in the army. He may not be what he seems, but still he looks out for the kids Anna and Luke, played by Maika Monroe and Brendan Meyer respectively. He does what he wants and he does it well. He can talk himself out of any conversation and come out on top as well with his fighting skills. Eventually, whoever he knew before gets word of his whereabouts and the film becomes a crazy, fun action film.
Everyone does great acting here but Dan Stevens is king. He plays this man so well. You, the audience that is, knows he should not be trusted. The mother, who is the first he interacts with trust him immediately though. This is believable only because of the wonderful talent of Stevens. The dialogue is kind of silly, it is all cheesy enough to work, but Stevens reading of it is absolutely brilliant. At times you are even convinced that Stevens’ actions are for the best because he is always the smartest people in the room.
Now The Guest does takes from other films, but in such a way that it is only borrows the tones of the genre and nothing is directly stolen. The film feels like its own piece, but leaves with an after taste of Carpenter and Hitchcock. It is a real joy to watch all the way through as it starts out as a mystery and slowly flies off the rails into the wonderful action film it always was.
The Guest knows exactly what it is doing; it borrows from other films but never copies what it has borrowed. Dan Stevens gives one of the better performances that is a total blast to watch and at the same time a little frightening. It is a wonderful work of art that will be remembered for years to come.