Adam Wingard’s The Guest Is a Chilling and Hilarious Thriller
January 10, 2015 - accent chair
Adam Wingard’s The Guest opens with a wet-eyed lady (Sheila Kelley) sitting so still in a chair in her dried plantation residence that all we hear is a time aloud counting seconds. We clarity that she’s been sitting like this for months, and a film is charged with anticipation. Horror, like this lamentation mother, is watchful for a change. And fear has never had a film utterly like this.
The doorbell rings, and this confident, swoony and waggish thriller gets going. On a porch is just-discharged maestro David (Dan Stevens), who served with Laura’s passed son, Caleb, and swore he’d stop by to tell a family how most their child desired them. David has a soothing voice and ends any judgment with “ma’am” or “sir.” His print is right adult there on a mantel: a shot of Caleb’s brigade. He doesn’t wish to intrude; he’s merely flitting by on his approach to Florida to demeanour for work. And so Laura begs him to stay and nap in Caleb’s aged room, during slightest for a few nights.
“What if he has a PTSD or whatever it’s called?” cautions her father (Leland Orser). Their high-school-age son, Luke (Brendan Meyer), is also on edge, as is their 20-year-old goth-babe daughter, Anna (Maika Monroe), who’s disturbed about her parents’ frail stability. The Peterson family’s fears aren’t off-base. There’s something wrong underneath David’s aspect that we clarity before any of them acknowledge it, something in a approach a light in his neon-blue eyes shuts off whenever he’s alone.
But boy, is that aspect seductive. David shortly wins over everyone. He’s a genuine Captain America: polite, protective, desirable and a walking cloud of pheromones. Wingard delights in sharpened him like a voluptuous car. In one scene, David startles Anna by exiting a wet lavatory wearing zero yet a towel and a wisp of steam. Later, he enters a celebration carrying a keg in any hand, and a drunks solidify in their place, a girls stricken with lust and a guys with shame.
The film around him is only as glamorous — it looks good and sounds even better, interjection to a erotic electronic soundtrack that Wingard includes in scenes as a mixtape that Anna presents to David after a night where she’s roughly tempted to join this foreigner in a bedroom down a hall.
Reduced to a two-sentence pitch, The Guest sounds like a ripped-from-the-headlines fear crack about aggrieved veterans, yet it’s not designed to snub or offend. It wants to have fun, so it creates David both a evident hazard and a victim, himself, of a puzzling supervision module headed by The Wire‘s Lance Reddick, that it never bothers to explain. (“Experimental troops program” is adequate to make audiences hiss.) It even lets us trust that this torpedo with Terminator beauty competence indeed adore this family, even as he resolves to murder it.
This is a star-making purpose for Stevens, best famous as a blond successor Matthew Crawley in Downton Abbey. Stripped of his tweeds and given a polo shirt and amiable Southern accent, he looks complicated and manly. He moves with genuine menace, grins as if he always gets a lady and proves he has a operation that expands distant over a British countryside. More importantly, Stevens plays David unironically. He’s humorous yet never campy, and manages to spike a passionless amusement of a stage where David mentors Luke to dominate bullies by blazing down their houses with their families inside. (And Meyer knows to respond with quiet, please-say-he’s-kidding alarm.)
Wingard and screenwriter Simon West’s final comic chiller, You’re Next, got chuckles from being a intelligent travesty on slasher flicks. It was meaningful and clever, yet The Guest is straighter and better, a possess organic delight. Most films that try for laughs and screams make themselves a joke, as yet saying, “Isn’t it waggish that we’re slumming it with scares?” But their characters are too silly, their beats too mocking and telegraphed; as a result, their deaths don’t container a wallop. There’s zero some-more greedy than dull slaughter, even if we hee-haw during a gore. The Guest transcends a genre with characters who could have come out of a some-more critical movie. We giggle with them, not during them. When they’re in peril, we indeed care, and Wingard respectfully creates a kills purify and quick.
The Guest delivers on all — a sex, a humor, a menace, a cold — and even yet it climaxes in a haunted-house obstruction follow we consider we’ve seen before, we’ve never seen it this good, this witty or this ambitious. As a haze from a fume appurtenance swirls around David and a journey Anna, a impulse is roughly romantic. We clarity that she’s twice as dissapoint since she scarcely fell underneath his spell. It’s OK, dear — we have, too.
THE GUEST | Directed by Adam Wingard | Written by Simon Barrett | ArtAffects Entertainment | ArcLight Hollywood, AMC Century 15