That single opening shot before the film’s title card is mysterious: a man runs along a dusty road. There are no clues about where the man is running to or what he is running from. The viewer is left wondering what is going on, and the mystery of the person who says he is named David lies at the heart of Adam Wingard’s cult film masterwork The Guest. I loved that establishing shot of the Peterson family residence because the pumpkin headed scarecrow echoes the freaky opening credits for Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers and thus hints at what occurs later on in the film.
Throughout most of this movie is a harrowing intense feeling of doom. David gives off a charming likeable feel and yet he clearly masks something nasty beneath his icy smile and the forced chuckles. It’s creepy how a stranger like David can insert himself into a normal family and yet by acting as a demonic guardian he earns their trust. It’s fitting that Anna, the daughter, sees though David’s projection of himself as this nice guy willing to help out the family of his dead comrade in arms. Unfortunately for her this urge to ask questions results in a literally explosive final act that is equal parts thrilling and creepy.
This film has shades of classics such as Halloween and The Terminator, existing as a horror action thriller hybrid. It’s soundtrack is also 80s heavy and very cool, underlying the proceedings in full synthesizer glory. Dan Stevens is impressive as David, and I love how the film is kind of “Unstoppable Badass Sits Down to Dinner.” Also I figured out that Wingard offers even more of a twist on the slasher film genre here than he even did with You’re Next, another great film he’s made. Particularly with the eerie and tension filled high school sequence, a classic staple of slasher films.
Oh and the ending made me smile. A lot. Yes The Guest is rather simplistic pilot wise however I don’t care. Maika Monroe had a strong presence as Anna and at times was channeling Amber Heard, which is a good thing. The action sequences are all crisp and badass, and David always feels intense and relentless. When he finally drops his mask its a great shock and a reminder that in this world maybe its smarter to distrust people you don’t know.