HTS Moderator , Reviewer
Title: The Guest
HTS Overall Score:87
“The Guest” is one of those movies that you’ve heard the plotline from a dozen times before. Stranger comes to a family’s house, tells them a kind story of how he knew someone in their family and they let him in (with ominous music in the background), only to find out later that he’s a raving psychopath. However, mix in the same group of people who made last year’s hit movie “You’re Next” and you have a movie that revels in its own clichés and just has fun with the material at hand (something long since gone from most modern movies). I expected a taught thriller, as the back cover made it sound as if it was a home invasion style movie, kind of like “You’re Next”, but I was really surprised at the mishmash of genres that flowed through the movie and somehow WORKED for its advantage.
The Peterson family has suffered a loss in the form of their Army soldier son, Caleb. Mourning his loss comes to an end when a stranger shows up at their doorstep claiming to be a friend of the departed. David (Dan Stevens) introduces himself as a friend and soon sweet talks his way into the family’s home for a few days while he gets his life together after the military. The audience knows something is amiss from the minute he steps into the home, but the family is blissfully unaware of the chaos to ensue. Seeming to be the paragon of virtue, David helps out around the house, befriending Caleb’s younger brother Luke and giving him a hand dealing with bullies at school and even wins over the skeptical Mr. Peterson (Leland Orser) to his side. The daughter, Anna (Maika Monroe) is the only one with reservations and soon enough she succumbs to David’s country boy charm.
The veneer wears off once Anna overhears David talking on the phone to a mysterious third party. Realizing that he’s not who he said he was Anna starts digging into things and noticing clues, such as all the people that were in the families “way”, so to speak, start ending up dead and the strange coincidences that just seem to happen whenever David is around. David of course finds out and what happens next is a deadly game of cat and mouse as Anna tries to out maneuver David and keep herself out of harm’s way, while the charmingly malevolent David plays his own game of chess to an end that is known only to himself.
“The Guest” is not anything new in terms of concept. Home invasions and evil bad guys posing as good guys has been around for decades, but what makes the movie shine is the panache and style that the director slathers over the movie. Usually when I say “style above substance” it’s usually in regards to a movie that looks pretty but has nothing to it. “The Guest” is very stylish and fun in its take on a tired old genre (much like how “You’re Next” took a new take at the very bone weary slasher genre), and the actors just revel in the clichés and old fashioned filming styles that very much reminds me of the 90s. The music, the clothing, the obligatory scene where David walks out with nothing but a towel on (with the music blaring in almost slow motion in the background), EVERYTHING just reeks of a throwback to a time when the thriller was on top of the world.
I’m actually really surprised and really impressed at the genre mashup that “The Guest” was able to pull off. The film is part Action movie, part bloody thriller and part Jason Bourne (Yes, I said Bourne, and you’ll know why once you watch the film). There were elements of “The Stepfather” in there with regards to the creepy looks into the camera, the crazed psychopath who actually believes he’s sane, and the old fashioned 80/90’s creepy music playing in the back. Then it would switch to a full out action movie with fist fights in a bar and an action ending that had David going off against a special forces unit with enough firepower to take out New York City itself and blend that with a heavy dosage of gore into the mix and you have a very interesting cake to eat. I don’t know if many people could pull off that genre mashup, but somehow these guys pulled it off and had me grinning from ear to ear the entire time. The cliché’s were sometimes a bit much and definitely pulled it down from a 4.5/5 film to a 4/5 rating, but the sheer amount of fun in the movie irresistible. Dan Stevens plays two faced David to a T, being sweet and charming one moment, and then vicious and ice cold the next, only to switch back to charming and have the audience STILL rooting for him in a way.
Rated R for strong violence, language, some drug use and a scene of sexuality
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=36089[/img]“The Guest” comes to home video with a simply fantastic 2.40:1 AVC encoded Blu-ray disc that never fails to please. The movie itself spends half the time in the dark and the other half in the light, with two different looks to it. During the daytime sequences the film lights up with a bright and cheery looking image, lightly tinted with orange and heavily detailed all throughout. The other half of the film takes place at night time or dark, smoky interiors that just ooze with inky blacks. Both sides are equally exceptional and show off plenty of fine detail for us home theater buffs. Black levels are well nuanced and even the darkest scenes are free of black crush or any digital interference. The disc itself only has one audio track and a 1 hour and 40 minute runtime so the encode is given plenty of room to breathe and shows no signs of manipulation of compression artifacting, I’m proud to say. A superb looking encode.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=36097[/img]While the video encode was exceptional, the 5.1 DTS-HD MA track is nothing short of phenomenal. Usually lower budget films, especially in the thriller or horror genre tend to be a bit lackluster in the surround usage, but this one doesn’t suffer from any of those problems. The track is dynamic and aggressive from the get go, never failing to be in your face or immerse the viewer with a cornucopia of ambient noises that come from all sides. The panning and directionality of the track is nothing to sneer at as the sound stage shifts from one end of the theater to another with a million different noises. The track is really heavy on the music, as the music in the film sets the mood, the tone and the direction that the movie takes and plenty of power is given to the throbbing track that switches from modern to old fashioned rock at the drop of a hat. Interestingly enough the music feels like it’s taking the job of physical screen wipes that you see on screen, except done sonically. You might notice that I said aggressive, and that usually means powerful bass, which is here in spades. Ground thumping, chest rattling bass pounds all around the listener, ranging from mid bass from the musical score that will pound away at your chest to the deep and low LFE that comes from the rumble of a car or the sound of a heavy machine gun. Truly amazing track that was one of my favorite parts of the whole package.
• Deleted Scenes
• Q&A with Dan Stevens
• Feature Commentary with director Adam Winged and writer Simon Barrett.
“The Guest” is one brutal little thriller at times, and somehow manages to get you to root for the bad guy AND the good guys at the same time, blending in a very subtle sense of humor with a deadpan psychopath at the helm. The actual movie took me by surprise from what I was expecting, but I came out no less impressed with the unique flair that director Adam Wingard brought to the table, and am certainly excited to see what else these guys come up with in the future. The video and audio are exceptional and while the extras are a bit light, if you guys like a good bloody thriller that is the same, but somehow different than what has come before, I definitely recommend “The Guest”.
Starring: Dan Stevens, Sheila Kelley, Maika Monroe
Directed By: Adam Wingard
Written By: Simon Barrett
Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1 AVC
Audio: ENGLISH: DTS-HD MA 5.1
Runtime: 100 Minutes
Blu-ray Release Date: January 6th 2015
Buy The Guest Blu-ray on Amazon
Recommendation: Check it Out
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