Review by Gordon Justesen
Stevens, Maika Monroe, Leland Orser, Sheila Kelley, Brendan Meyer, Lance Reddick
Director: Adam Wingard
Audio: DTS HD 5.1
Video: Anamorphic Widescreen 2.40:1
Features: See Review
Length: 101 Minutes
Release Date: January 6, 2015
ďLook, man, if youíve brought money for all of them, Iíll cut you a deal. You can take Ďem all off my hands.Ē
ďNo, Iím going to kill you.Ē
Itís always an invigorating feeling when youíve come across a movie that is destined to become the next big cult classic. It may not happen instantly, but I have a strong feeling that The Guest will be such a film eventually. Itís a brilliant, gleefully piece of near-exploitive mayhem with sinister sense of humor lying underneath it from beginning to end.
The plot scenario is familiar, as a stranger named David (Dan Stevens) presents himself at the doorstep of the Peterson family. He served in the Army with the familyís eldest and recently killed son, Caleb. After delivering a message to the family that Caleb loved each and every one of them, and also resulting from his ultra nice demeanor, David is asked to stay by the mother of the family (Sheila Kelley), and eventually wins over the rest of the family.
Before long, David grows closer to the family that he ends up teaching their youngest son, Luke (Brendan Meyer), how to defend himself against bullies in a most unusual fashion. He also begins a bond with rebellious daughter Anna (Maika Monroe), who is no doubt drawn to him...enough so that she willingly shows him off to her friends at a house party, with some most interesting results.
But as we come to suspect, David is not all he appears to be. Even though heís displayed some lethal fighting moves when going up against Lukeís bullies and some jerks at the house party, thereís an even deadlier side to the man. And once a secret military unit gains knowledge of Davidís whereabouts, we know the fit is about to hit the shan!
One of the sheer joys of this movie is how director Adam Wingard and screenwriter Simon Barrett, who also made the awesome horror comedy Youíre Next, build up to the revelation of who David really is. The first half of the movie is calm and quiet, as David is welcomed in with open arms by the unsuspecting family. But when the second half kicks in, all hell literally breaks loose as we are treated to events that might transpire if Michael Myers and The Terminator were condensed into one human being.
In the lead role, Dan Stevens is nothing short of phenomenal. I have yet to see a single episode of Downton Abbey, but I can already assume that the role of David is a million miles away from his character on that show (Stevens hides his British accent insanely well), indicating he possesses strong range as an actor. Even more impressive is how he takes a character that couldíve easily been way over the top, but plays the part in a low key manner that makes it all the more sinister and hilarious, simultaneously.
The Guest is a hyper violent, genre bending package that I am going to sincerely enjoy revisiting over time. Itís not everyday that movie so whacked out of its mind also happens to be a tremendous piece of filmmaking, but this one is indeed a rare breed. Itís a cult classic in the making, and one of the very best movies of 2014!
Universal boasts a tremendously sharp and awesome looking presentation with this Blu-ray release! Colors are absolutely fantastic here, and the overall quality of image detail is at a superb top notch. Various set pieces get glorious treatment, in particular a climatic standoff in a high school with a Halloween theme. Amazing job!
The DTS HD mix serves this insane enterprise perfectly. The second half of the movie alone is reason enough to showcase this one on a great sound system. Thereís also a nice, John Carpenter-esque score to the film, as well as a most interesting soundtrack lineup (you wonít believe your ears during a scene that has Stevie B.ís sappy classic ďBecause I Love YouĒ lingering in the background). Dialogue delivery is superbly handled as well, balancing out terrifically with the action and music playback.
Included on this Universal Blu-ray is a terrific commentary with director Adam Wingard and writer Simon Barrett, as well as a brief Q&A with actor Dan Stevens, and fifteen minutes worth of Deleted Scenes with optional commentary from Wingard and Barrett.
Top notch filmmaking and exploitive mayhem collide wonderfully in the one of a kind package that is The Guest. I have been hungry for a movie like this for the longest time, and Iím certainly hoping that it becomes the cult classic that I truly feel itís destined to become!