I wasn’t sure I was going to like ‘The Guest’. I saw the trailer and was more than a little ‘meh’ about it. It just looked like a thriller, and I’m more of a horror fan. As it turned out, this is essentially ‘Halloween’ with the supernatural stripped away, and it was very much my cup of tea.
In ‘The Guest’, the Peterson family are recovering from the loss of their eldest son in Afghanistan, when David, a friend from the army their son hadn’t mentioned, arrives on the doorstep. On leave from the army, David reveals that he was with their son when he died, and he asked them to visit his family and tell them in person that he loved them. The family have a mixed reaction to David’s arrival. The mother is keen to welcome him into their home, the father and daughter, not so much. However, David’s support of their troubled youngest son brings the family around. But David has a secret, and when the daughter’s suspicions lead her to investigate David’s past–all Hell breaks lose.
I can’t say much about ‘The Guest’ without spoiling it as it relies heavily on the uncertainty around whether David is someone that can be trusted within the family he has visited. Dan Stevens is brilliant as David, hard to imagine it’s the same actor from ‘Downton Abbey’. David’s quiet confidence, no-nonsense attitude is an attraction, they’re traits that make you root for him, yet there’s something about his quietness, the stillness around him as he coasts into situations that’s a little unnerving. The way the family warm to him is convincing, and it’s hard to know whether he is playing them, or it’s the family accepting him filling the void their loss has left behind. That is until the truth is out.
The film turns from a subtly unnerving mystery to a full on action thriller. The revelation and this turn in the film is a jolt, and the film quickly becomes a cross between ‘Halloween’ and ‘Terminator’, through the 80s style synth score, a seemingly unstoppable killer burning through the town in the run up to Halloween with an arsenal of weapons. I haven’t been surprised by a film in a while, and not just because I didn’t think it was for me. I would give this 4 ambiguous characters out of 5.
If you like ‘Halloween’, ‘Terminator’, and ‘The Hitcher’ you’ll find something to like in this.