Film Review: “The Guest” (2014)


Director: Adam Wingard

Screenwriter: Simon Barrett

Producers: Keith Calder, Jessica Calder

Executive Producer: Thorsten Schumacher

Director of photography: Robby Baumgartner

Production designer: Thomas S. Hammock

Costume designer: Kathleen Detoro

Music: Stephen Moore

Editor: Adam Wingard

Cast: Dan Stevens, Maika Monroe, Brendan Meyer, Sheila Kelley, Leland Orser, Lance Reddick, Chase Williamson

Never talk to strangers. Never open the door and let in someone you don’t know. Undoubtedly, these are some of the main rules we all should follow in our everyday lives with no hesitation. However this is not true for the Peterson family right now as they deeply grieve the loss of their beloved son and brother – Caleb, who died in action in Afghanistan. Blinded by grief, they cannot think or act rationally. This is noticed by a certain person, who will soon be known to the viewers as “The Guest”.

It’s October: Halloween is around the corner. Everyone in the small rural community is enjoying their lives and noisily preparing for the festivities, but the Peterson family is still mourning the death of a son. Laura Peterson is sitting on the sofa and silently staring at her son’s photo with swollen eyes. There is a knocking at the door and she opens it to find a young and charming man with angelic smile, who introduces himself as David Collins (Dan Stevens) – a very close friend of Laura’s deceased son. He claims to have known Caleb very well and has come to deliver a very important message. Laura immediately invites him in. Later on, David is offered to sleep overnight at their place and even to stay there a few more days. Nevertheless, things are not as perfect as they might seem: right after the appearance of this young man a series of accidental deaths happen, which seem to be connected to his presence.

“The Guest” is directed by Adam Wingard. The Alabama-based filmmaker is pretty knows to cineastes for his micro-budget productions and dark and twisty style of filmmaking: he debuted at the age of 19 and already with his second feature caught the attention of large European distribution companies. This film is the second collaboration for the director Adam Wingard and the scriptwriter Simon Barrett (they worked together on “You’re Next”, 2011). And it was particularly interesting to see the new collaborative creation of the two artists. It should be mentioned that Wingard and Barrett really communicate effectively and as a result of it – “The Guest” appears to be quite an entertaining work; a universal soldier type film with an unexpected ending. Of course, there are some undeveloped parts in the script, which may confuse the viewers and make some parts of the story less believable. But these issues are not that big and can be easily forgiven within the overall picture.

The story of “The Guest” is very interesting and once again reveals to us the dangerous nature of experiments on human beings and even worse – on soldiers, who in the end may turn into killing machines. Most importantly, the film is not boring and takes us right to the point, hiding none of the details, except the twist at the end. Everyone in the film plays their part perfectly well.

The film generally revolves around Caleb’s brother Luke (Brendan Meyer) and sister – Anna (Maika Monroe). In many films teenagers are often being depicted as spontaneous, silly or incapable of making the right decisions in critical situations: Wingard’s “The Guest” shows us quite the opposite and that makes the film very different from many others. Dan Stevens (know to us from the films “A Walk among the Tombstones”, “The Cobbler”, “The Fifth Estate”) delivers very solid performance as David Collins. This actor, surely, has the potential to quickly become one of the most popular actors in the world cinema, if he continues developing and improving his performance skills.

Having said that, “The Guest” is an interesting, highly entertaining and right-to-the-point thriller with a clear message to the viewer – always be self-aware! The film allows the viewer to use their imagination and draw their own conclusions in the end. Yet, no matter how many people will watch this film, I believe, we all will share the same conclusion: never open the door to a stranger and, more importantly, do not allow the stranger to stay in your house.

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