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So as you know, I stopped writing lengthy reviews on this site this year, keeping the blog as more of a film diary of sorts.  Lo and behold,...

Friday, August 07, 2015

Movie Review - The Guest

The Guest (2014)
Starring Dan Stevens, Maika Monroe, Brendan Meyer, Sheila Kelley, Leland Orser, and Lance Reddick
Directed by Adam Wingard
***This film is currently streaming on Netflix***

Director Adam Wingard had a critical success with his previous horror film You're Next, but I found the flick a little blander than most.  With The Guest, Wingard fared even better with the reviews and while I agree that it's a more intriguing effort, it still didn't quite hit all the right notes and beats to be hugely successful for me.

Downton Abbey's Dan Stevens is David, an Army vet who shows up on the doorstep of the Peterson family home one afternoon.  Mom Laura, Dad Spencer, and daughter and son Anna and Luke (Sheila Kelley, Leland Orser, Maika Monroe, and Brendan Meyer) are still coping with the death of their son who died in action, but David claims to have been one of their son's war buddies.  Pictures seem to prove the veracity of this claim, but as mysterious deaths begin to pile up, the family begins to question whether David is who he really claims to be.

With a Halloween-esque 1980s-inspired electronic score and some likely purposeful corny acting, The Guest certainly is paying a bit of an ode to horror films of the past and while it does so successfully, sometimes I find myself wondering whether the self-referential aspects to films like this are a bit of a cop out for a director who can't quite find his own place in the auteur realm.  While this isn't necessarily a problem here -- going for "corny" works for The Guest especially as the story unfolds -- it sometimes feels like the aesthetic trumps the plot which typically isn't a good thing.

Elevating The Guest is a solid performance from Dan Stevens as the titular character.  Even if you hadn't seen a trailer or read a review, it would be obvious from the beginning that David isn't who he seems to be, but Stevens knowingly plays up the ambiguity and brings us along for the ride.  The film's quick pace never allows it to overstay its welcome and while I had hoped for a bit better because of its overwhelmingly positive critical reviews, you could certainly fare worse on the streaming side of Netflix.

The RyMickey Rating:  C+

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