Thursday, 11 September 2014

The Guest

In an ideal world, none of us would be spending this week talking about Scottish independence, royal babies or new-fangled technowatches, because all of those things are just silly. Instead we should all be talking about The Guest, a film which is equally as silly as all those things - like, REALLY silly - but is also totally, 100% aware of it. I mean, that bag of inbred cells that's currently fourth in line to the throne has literally no clue how silly it is. None whatsoever.

Arriving from nowhere and probably, due to its low marketing budget and lack of big names, heading back there in a matter of days, The Guest is a tremendous, bonkers and deliriously retro thriller that's the perfect antidote to the pompous pish that's hogging screen space at cinemas in this arid swathe of the movie calendar. It's absolute rubbish, but it's the most gloriously entertaining rubbish I've seen for an achingly long time.
Mysterious stranger and former soldier David rocks up at the home of his deceased warbuddy, swiftly inveigling himself into the lives of mom, dad, bullied younger brother and hormone-soaked sister, and the fact that they more or less take him in without question gives you some idea of how seriously to take this film. It's as if nobody in the family has ever seen a movie about a mysterious stranger, or indeed any movie at all, ever. After a first act that takes a little too long to say not much, things move from mundane to mental, not least as the film's brakes fail and it barrels wildly towards its ludicrously stylised climax.

It's hard to judge how far horror hacks Simon Barrett (writing) and Adam Wingard (directing) intend The Guest to be deliberately funny: it's not a comedy by any stretch, but it's packed full of more cheese than a Frenchman's fridge, and given the right circumstances - say, a Friday night in a packed cinema after a few beers - it nails a tone that renders it insanely joyous. The mood is defiantly '80s, bolstered by a terrific synth score that sounds like the b-sides of everything on the Drive soundtrack and a wodge of cheerfully ironic slo-mo sequences (two words: laundry basket). Nods to the likes of Commando and The Terminator abound, and it's that audience - the one that's been disappointed by the failure of the Expendables films to recapture a schlocky, Cannon-era '80s spirit - that will invite The Guest into their hearts. There's a latticework of plot holes and a disappointing attempt to explain exactly what the chuff is going on, but if it's a worthy chin-stroker you're after then you're in the wrong film. I'm sure Night Moves is still on somewhere.
Star Dan Stevens, thus far famous for appearing in some TV show or other and for manually relieving the sexual frustrations of our transatlantic cousins, cements his rep as a name to watch. Apparently the result of a genetic experiment to crossbreed Bradley Cooper and Daniel Craig, he's not yet as good as either, but have patience. If his agent hasn't already had a phone call from a breathless Barbara Broccoli, I'll be amazed; he's the epicentre of The Guest's mirthquake and has presence to burn.

Distributors Icon can't hope to slay the box office with The Guest, but the film is destined to find its true purpose in the home entertainment market. Until then, it is incumbent upon you all to seek it out at your nearest picture house before it disappears, so that come next week - if there's any justice in the world - all of us are talking about it.


  1. Good review Suit, I'm pumped to see this one – as you say, hadn't heard anything about it until the last week or so

  2. Great review. I'm going to have to watch this. I disagree with the Daniel Craig comparison though – I think he looks like a direct cross between Bradley Cooper and Paul Walker!