Starring: Dan Stevens, Maika Monroe, Leland Orser
Director: Adam Wingard
Running Time: 100 mins
The Guest is an American film about a man who arrives at a family’s home claiming to be a friend of their son, who died while serving in the army. However, after he stays with them for a few days, unexplained deaths begin happening all over their small town.
A film that consistently fails to deliver on real promise, The Guest is a very disappointing watch. Despite striking direction that lends it a pulsating atmosphere, the film fails to strike a balance between dark, dark comedy and genuine intrigue, while regularly spoiling its own biggest twists long before they come.
But let’s start with the positives. While The Guest may not tell a brilliant story, it does at least have a striking, dynamic atmosphere. Adam Wingard does everything to blend eerie thrills with intense, pulp energy, and does a good job for the most part.
It’s the screenplay that lets the side down, but there are moments where that atmosphere really hits home nicely. From the intrigue surrounding the identity of the mysterious guest to an action-packed finale, Wingard’s direction is by far and away the film’s strongest suit.
The performances are less than impressive. In the lead role, Dan Stevens doesn’t quite deliver the menacing intensity of a mysterious antagonist. He’s certainly intimidating at moments, but he never really grabs hold of you with an unsettlingly charismatic performance as the film so desperately needs.
The rest of the supporting cast is equally underwhelming. Although, that’s with the exception of Maika Monroe, who brings the best gravitas and emotional intensity of all on screen with a great supporting turn.
Above all, though, it’s the screenplay that really makes The Guest so disappointing. The film starts off with striking intrigue and an eerie atmosphere, yet does so little with it over the following hour and a half.
There are flashpoints here and there that make you sit up and take notice, but for the most part, The Guest really doesn’t have the mystery, excitement or intensity to properly entertain.
Its attempts at darkly violent humour are unconvincing, and even confusing in the latter stages. Meanwhile, there’s little in the way of strong character development, with none of the leads really standing out as captivating players in the context of the story.
Again, there are good moments, and the film’s atmosphere goes a long way to making it an engaging watch. But in general, The Guest is a very disappointing film, and never quite delivers on the promise of what clearly sets up to be an intense, pulsating thrill ride. And that’s why I’m giving it a 6.8 overall.