The Guest is a movie has been popping up on my Netflix for weeks now and I would just mentally tag it as a film to watch one night and move on until I actually felt like sitting through it. The film follows David (Dan Stevens) a ex-soldier introduces himself to the Peterson family, claiming to be a friend of their son, Caleb, who died in action. After David is welcomed into their home, a series of accidental deaths seem to be connected to his presence and a department of government is looking for him.
The Guest starts out promising, It sets up all the questions you want answered about David. Who is he? What does he want? Why does he seem off? David starts out really charming, winning over Calab’s mother and father almost overnight and they beg him to stay longer as he is the last link they have to their dead son, but it doesn’t take long before we know that there is something wrong with David as he begins to violently help the family out in their problems.
The film is really uneven, Dan is good in the role then there are times he is just awful as he switches from his gentleman to psycho role, Nearly every actor in here is bad except for my always favorite character actor Joel David Moore (Hatchet) and the cute as a button Maika Monroe (It Follows) who jumps back and forth from doing something interesting then being completely forgettable throughout the movie.
Adam Wingard (V/H/S, V/H/S 2/ You’re Next) who started out and mainly directed horror films tries to add this to the action genre and it just doesn’t work. At first David is mysterious and you can see he’s bad for Caleb’s family but it all starts to unravel when it’s revealed that he and Caleb were part of some sort of super soldier program that was used to make them into the perfect killing machines for the government.
Wingard and the crew reveal in not explaining much of anything about David’s backstory, so much so that Lance Reddick just shows up out of nowhere as a a Major who is cleaning up any survivors of this program we are told nothing about. Adam Wingard is good at making your feel uneasy in his films, the entirety of the V/H/S series and You’re Next do just that, make you uneasy and has had me shifting in my chair or couch several times but by the end of The Guest, all I could do was be pissed because I couldn’t help but think how someone’s incompetence help manufacture several unnecessary deaths. This movie left me angry because, like the people who started this program, the stupidity behind it left everyone with a horrible outcome.
I want you to take a moment and look either to your left or right, find a point ten…maybe even twenty feet away from where you are right. Now I want you to imagine someone is walking towards you, slowly and you know without any doubt that when that person is within reach they are going to kill you…violently. So naturally you run, drive, even fly, but one day you’re lucky and you see someone walking towards you, slowly. with that same look on their face. It can look like a complete stranger, a best friend, your mother, sister, brother, daughter, son anyone, it is still coming, no matter how far you run, and it’s going to kill you.
This is the plot behind the latest horror film It Follows, written and directed by David Robert Mitchell which stars Maika Monroe, Keir Gilchrist, Olivia Luccardi, and Lili Sepe, find Jay (Maika Monroe) who is just recently out of high attending college and starting to date more. She goes out with a handsome young man named Hugh, on which one night she sleeps with him. Hugh drugs her and Jay wakes up in a wheelchair where Hugh begins to explain that since they slept together he’s passed something to her. It will follow her, where ever she goes with the soul intent of killing her and she can pass it to anyone else, all she has to do is have sex. If she doesn’t, It will kill her then move backwards down the line of recipients of this “curse”.
Here lies my problem with this movie, the idea is pretty solid, something following you, walking very slowly can kill you and no matter how hard you try to run it will keep following you, even if you “give” it to someone else (and no the STD metaphor isn’t lost on me) it could still come back for you if the person you gave it to dies, so you spend the rest of your life, looking over your shoulder, wondering if It has finally come for you. This in itself is pretty terrifying but it does raise many questions and things that just don’t make much sense. In the beginning you see a pretty brutal ending to someone who gave up and allowed It to get her, but later on in the movie when you actually see it take someone it’s way to comical to be taken seriously.
Despite that, the movie does have some pretty freaky moments, and the movie is just dripping with love for late 70’s and 80’s horror films. The cars, the houses, the costumes, and the lack of parents all scream 80’s horror which I really enjoyed since David Robert Mitchell managed to show his love for the time frame without being gimmicky about it. We didn’t see any of the kids playing with a rubik’s cube, Star Wars t-shirts, etc.
I enjoyed It Follows, for it’s pretty freaky atmosphere and the overall layout of the plot, but it’s really hard to recommend this to anyone other then straight horror fans or the art house crowd. This isn’t your typical mainstream horror movie and so I feel a warning should be in place. If you’re a horror movie fan and you love movies, you pay attention to editing, how shots are set up then this film is for you, if you’re just your casual movie goer then I would tell you to wait until you can rent this, but my feelings, despite this and the fact that it doesn’t appear that the lore of this monster and how this all works wasn’t thought out that well I would still give this 3 1/2 stars out of 5.