Tripwire’s contributing writer Simon Kennedy reviews horror movie The Guest, starring Dan Stevens and out now on Blu Ray from Second Sight…
Director: Adam Wingard
Stars: Dan Stevens, Maika Monroe, Sheila Kelley, Leland Orser
The Guest popped up at the back end of the whole Drive craze. It was an oddity, to be sure, fusing science fiction, horror and thriller genres but without really overly committing to any. It also heralded a genuinely unexpected series of things. Firstly, it has a star turn from Downton Abbey heartthrob Dan Stevens. He of the blond locks and posh voice. Next, it was Adam Wingard’s excellent step up from his brilliant and very under rated horror film You’re Next. Finally, it was the crowning of Maika Monroe as a scream queen and tough arse fighter, although Monroe would be more feted for her role in It Follows, the decade’s best horror film.
When David (Dan Stevens), a veteran, turns up at the house of the Peterson family, it is completely out of the blue. He was in the same squad as their eldest son Caleb, who died in action. He has fond memories of Caleb and wants to share stories. Laura Peterson (Sheila Kelley), Caleb’s mother is desperate for the void to be filled and takes him in and, after Father Spencer Peterson’s (Leland Orser) concerns are eased, the family accepts him as a part of their own. Anna (Monroe) and Luke (Brendan Meyer) Peterson see him as a rather dull addition and possibly feel he is like a redundant replacement for their elder brother. All good so far. All happy families. All sending vibes of America in the margins,
coming to terms with itself after those early 21st century war events.
Then things start to happen. David starts to not only ingratiate himself into the family, he seems to exert an influence. A bunch of kids get the hell beaten out of them by David. Spencer loses out to a younger candidate at work for a promotion and then said boss is found dead. Two illegal gun salesmen are shot dead and one of them is a friend of Anna. All of this sends alarm bells ringing into the night. Often David appears to be at the end of them. His motto of ‘Do anything to help…’ seems to be a little more than empty rhetoric. Army database checks provide some disturbing details. The real David is dead. This David might well be an imposter which leads us to find out David’s true intentions and the menacing reason for his motto is revealed.
You cannot help but be a little impressed with the zeal that Adam Wingard brings to the screen here. His previous film, You’re Next refreshed a tired genre. The Guest does this but with an eye to diffusion elements of genre and coming back to a status quo. There are whiffs here of western, horror, thriller and even coming of age dramas., all condensed with a swagger of confidence. It has notes that have been lifted for Upgrade, Halloween Kills and even the teen dramas of Netflix. Stevens manages to be both cyborg-like and sociopathic. The family are pawns in his game. Direction is taut. Tensions cascade and the quiet menace that Stevens plays so well is effectively delivered by that framing. This is the sort of film that, if you are fans of 1980s and 1990s action films, 1970s horror films or 2000s thrillers, then it will deliver on all counts.
I have not seen the rigid box (though I love their previous stuff like Lake Mungo and The Nightingale) but I suspect it’s good. The disc I saw was the 1080p Blu Ray version. I can see how the 4K would improve on the experience in truth. The later nightmarish scenes are flatter than they really should be while Tte exterior dust bowl elements are a little too bleached. The extras are hit and miss. One extra that definitely works is the new commentary from director Adam Wingard and writer Simon Barrett (alongside a redundant old version). Wingard is the more interesting talker here. He does have a habit of explaining but that’s the whole point right? New interviews with Maika Monroe and Dan Stevens both shed equal amounts of light and dark on their roles. Stevens is more media poised and guides the narrative but Monroe is clever and graceful. The biggest hit for me though were the Deleted / Alternate Scenes. The deleted scenes are not as fun but the Alternative takes are examples of both director intelligence and caution. Listen to the commentary to fully understand my point.
4K / Blu-ray dual format release
Brand new grade for both formats supervised by Director Adam Wingard
UHD presented in Dolby Vision HDR
New commentary by Director Adam Wingard and Writer Simon Barrett
Archive commentary by Adam Wingard and Simon Barrett
The Uninvited Guest: a new interview with Actor Dan Stevens
A Perfect Stranger: a new interview with Actor Maika Monroe
By Invitation Only: a new interview with Adam Wingard and Simon Barrett
Producing The Guest: a new interview with Producers Keith Calder and Jess Wu Calder
Light and Fog: a new interview with Director of Photography Robby Baumgartner
Lightning Strikes: a new interview with Production Designer Tom Hammock
The Sounds of The Guest: a new interview with Composer Steve Moore
Deleted / Alternate Scenes, Outtake Gag with optional Director commentary
Limited Edition Contents:
Limited Edition 5,000
Rigid slipcase with new artwork by Adam Stothard
Dual UHD / Blu-ray format
Various Artists Soundtrack CD
160 page book with new essays by Tim Coleman, Zena Dixon, Craig Ian Mann and Zoe Rose Smith; Script-to-Screen featuring storyboards and script extracts, Behind-the-Scenes photos and Adam Wingard soundtrack notes.
6 collectors’ art cards
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Uninvited Trouble Tripwire’s contributing writer Simon Kennedy reviews horror movie The Guest, starring Dan Stevens and out now on Blu Ray from Second Sight… The Guest Director: Adam Wingard Stars: Dan Stevens, Maika Monroe, Sheila Kelley, Leland Orser The Guest popped up at the back end of the whole Drive craze. It was an oddity,
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