Rental Pick: The Guest (2014)

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I always enjoy seeing actors reinvent themselves and one of such actors who did a pretty phenomenal job recently is Dan Stevens. Most of you probably knew him from as Matthew Crawley from Downton Abbey, but I first saw the British actor in another period drama, BBC’s Sense & Sensibility. Well, gone is his chubby cheeks and floppy hair. Here he’s sporting a lean, sinewy bod with slicked-back hair AND a Southern drawl. He’s still got those dreamy baby blues though, which he uses to great effect to portray one of the creepiest characters ever.

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The story is a simple one. A mysterious stranger, David, suddenly shows up at the door saying that he’s a good friend of the the family’s deceased soldier son. Without bothering to check for his ID, the lady of the house just lets him inside AND invites him to stay the night. Despite initial hesitation (well, barely) the entire family pretty much just welcomes him with open arms and of course things slowly unravels until it completely gets off the rails.

Just like most horror/thriller movies, The Guest is filled with obtuse characters who make a series of glaring mistakes, but that’s sort of part of the fun. The movie isn’t exactly unpredictable as you’d know from the start there is something really off about *David* and that he is not who he says he is. But yet you’re in for the ride to discover just who the heck he is, and the film moves at a swiftly pace that it never overstays his welcome.

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Director Adam Wingard has mostly done horror films (V/H/S, You’re Next) and this one certainly has that campy horror feel to it. The style and sound is a throwback to 80s/90s action thrillers, nicely mixed with suspense and humor. Stevens seems to be having a blast being a bad ass action antihero here, and he’s proven to be versatile enough to display affable charm one minute to psychotic menace the next. Maika Monroe is quite good as the daughter in the family who’s much more shrewd than meets the eye.

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The finale in a school’s Halloween maze makeshift is cleverly executed and stylishly shot, complete with a chase through a hall of mirrors. The synth (or goth electronica as they’d like to describe it) music by Steve Moore is pure 80s nostalgia that adds a dose of excitement and amusement to the action-packed scene. I’ve featured it on a Music Break here, it’s a great example where the music sets the tone of the movie brilliantly. Glad I finally saw this one, and it lives up to the great reviews this movie’s been getting and it’s surely destined to be a cult classic. Despite some decidedly-cheesy and predictable moments, it’s definitely one of the most entertaining offerings of 2014 and I definitely want to see more of this naughty side of Dan Stevens 😉

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What do you think of The Guest?

 

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42 thoughts on “Rental Pick: The Guest (2014)

    1. I think you’ll have a blast Michael. I LOVE LOVE the soundtrack of this, esp the Anthonio song I posted on the Music Break post. It’s something I could listen over and over again on rotation, ahah.

  1. I’m definitely will give this one a rent, surprised that it didn’t even get a theatrical release here in the States! It’s sad how Hollywood studios won’t touch a film if it doesn’t starred or directed by well known actors and/or directors. I thought YOU’RE NEXT was a lot of fun and I read another review saying STEVENS’ character was a combination of The Terminator and Michael Meyers, now that I want to see. LOL!

    1. Oh I think it did, just didn’t make it to MN. Yeah I think Hollywood is just so preoccupied w/ the bottom line so if it’s not a bankable name, they won’t touch it. But it’s stupid as this movie was well-received so it’d probably make a good chunk of dough given the small budget. Ahah well he’s not quite as robotic as Terminator but I could see why they said that. He’s VERY creepy, but in a good way 😉

      1. Yeah I just looked it up on IMDB and it’s only released in limited theatrical run. It’s sad that studios won’t spend money promoting and expand it if the film doesn’t have well known actors/directors. But now with streaming, DVD and Bluray, some unknown films are getting notice by more people. Back in the days this kind of films won’t get notice at all until it hits VHS.

    1. Oh really? I suppose it probably didn’t make it to theaters in smaller cities, only NY or LA maybe. It’s worth renting Irene, it’s not thought provoking like Calvary or anything, but it’s a blast!

  2. After reading the review I was expecting to see a higher mark than 3.5. It sounds like you got a lot more out of it than I did, but our scores are pretty close. I thought it was a really messy movie and I couldn’t always figure out what tone it was going for. Several times I found myself laughing at Stevens and the story itself. But strangely I was thoroughly entertained. That is always a good thing.

    1. Yeah that’s why I didn’t give it a higher score than 3.5. It’s not perfect and the tone was uneven, but yet I was entertained too. Maybe because I was so used to seeing Stevens in those demure period dramas, it’s cool to see him reinvent himself like this.

  3. Great review! I’m glad you liked this. It could have been better, and I thought it had a few snags, but Stevens (who you turned me on to, by the way) is just so great in this, and the way that finale is shot is incredible.

    1. Hey Drew! Oh I didn’t know I was the one who turned you on to Stevens [hmmm that sounds kinda risque somehow, ahahaha] He surprised me how much he could transform himself in this way. Nice to see his sinister side, and I hope he gets more juicy roles in the future.

    1. There’s a bit of a tongue-in-cheek humor throughout w/ Stevens’ character. Oh you’re right Monroe does have Gwen Stefani vibe in some scenes, maybe that’s what they’re going for.

  4. Great review Ruth! You know I was a massive fan of this, and I thought Dan Stevens was simply phenomenal, he played this so well. And he is HOT. There’s that. I loved the score, the way it was shot, the characters… ah, it was almost perfect for me, it was plain down fun!

    1. Ha…ha… yes Dan is very HOT but I’ve already swooning over him when he was slightly chubby in those period dramas. That gratuitous shirtless scene to objectify him was brilliant wasn’t it? 😉 I’m still listening to the soundtrack, love it!

      1. I’ve been watching Downton, and Matthew? I am so totally in love with that character. ❤ Plus he's adorable! Not many men can lay claim to being freaking sexy as hell as well as super cute!

        Oooooooh, that scene was… perfect. No other way to describe it!

  5. g’day from australia! I’m glad you enjoyed this as much as I did,
    You know, I hadn’t heard of Dan Stevens until I saw Among The Tombstones a month before i saw this. But jeez, those eyes are hard to forget!!

    Tom from DSB sent me here, you’ve got a really slick site going down here. I like! Apparently you are doing a BSR this month? If so send me an email and perhaps we can sync our reviews with a common theme, I was supposed to do a double BSR for the end of Jan but I broke my bloody foor and couldn’t get out of bed! Contact me if you wanna collaborate in any way, on Tom’s site or yours 🙂
    my addy is: dodd (dot) jordan (at) gmail (dot) com

    Oh, and for what it is worth, this is what I thought of The Guest: http://wp.me/p4P9IW-9g

    I love constructive feedback/criticism, if anyone can be buggered I’d love to hear your thoughts/insults on my writing! ;P

    1. Hello hello, welcome to FC, Jordan! That’s interesting that you had only seen Dan in his American movie. Did he have a lot of screen time in that film? Ha..ha.. he does have gorgeous eyes 😉

      Thank you for the kind words! Yes I’ll be doing a BSR for him and we’ve agreed on the film: Last Train to Lisbon which is a mystery drama starring Jeremy Irons. Hope your foot is much better now btw.

      I’ll check out your review later today, hope to see you around here more often! 😀

  6. Good review, Ruth. It never got around to my corner of the desert, so I knew little about it until now. Sounds uneven but the music is great. I bet I’ll catch up with it one day. Dan Stevens is cute!

    1. It’s become a cult fave of sort, I think it only had a small theatrical release. The movie isn’t perfect but it’s VERY entertaining. I think if you’ve seen Dan in Downton Abbey you’d be amused seeing him here!

    1. Oooh I can’t wait to see it, lots of Stevens & Goode pics I hope, two gorgeous boys I wish would get more roles. Hang in there Sati, sounds like it’s one heck of a week in store for you girl [sending calming vibes your way] 😀

    1. I think you’ll enjoy this one Mark, the story is simple but the execution is pretty clever. And that Dan Stevens is another Brit that’s welcome in Hollywood any day 😉

  7. Aw, I’m going to have to disagree – sorry haha!
    I thought this film took itself a little too seriously instead of having more fun with it. Dan Stevens was too one-note for me and just looked constipated throughout.

    1. What, what?? I thought the film’s infused w/ humor throughout, but ah well, I guess we can’t agree w/ everything. Stevens’ character is supposed to have a bit of that robotic quality here. Did you like the soundtrack at least?

  8. Tom

    I do too Ruth. I really can’t wait to see more of Dan Stevens in the future. This thing just rocked my socks. I gave it a solid 7/8 b/c of him really. The story *did* leave a few things to be desired, and I was shocked at how willing this family was to let this COMPLETE stranger in to their home. Even despite his ostensible charm and “good” intentions.

    1. Hi ya Tom! Yeah I hope he lines up some intriguing work now that he’s moved to NYC. The story pushes the suspension of disbelief a bit too far but I think the style and performances still made it entertaining.

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