The Guest was a film that I had shrugged off after watching it’s rather underwhelming trailer. To be brutally honest, I felt indifferent to a film taking a generic thriller story and drowning it in John Carpenter-esque style, merely jumping on the bandwagon of films like 2011’s excellent Drive. “If I wanted to see a 1980 styled cat and mouse thriller, I’d just watch a 1980s cat and mouse thriller.” Yet after borrowing my brother’s copy of it, I was actually taken aback by how much I enjoyed it.
A soldier returns to pays his respects to his friend’s mourning family. He’s extremely polite and handsome but there’s a dark side beneath all the smiles and good manners. Here lies a systematic psychopath whose sole intention is to terrorise a family with their own individual conflicts, and there’s nothing that can possible stop him. Dan Steven’s titular role is deviously charming, but utterly warped in his actions towards the family. Even when his real intensions are revealed, there’s a twisted desire to see him succeed and that’s credit to Steven’s performance.
The Guest doesn’t necessarily do anything original, taking a very basic premise and running with it. In fact, the film plays more like a nostalgic trip down the gritty, uncompromising roads of the cult classics of the late 70s and 80s. Blood squibs, a synth soundtrack, long shots of endless roads and an unstoppable killing machine conjure thoughts of The Terminator and Halloween’s Michael Myers. The cinematography and production is well-thought out and coordinated, and the soundtrack is great.
The Guest is much like the 1980’s cult thriller The Hitcher staring Rutger Haeur. Both are engaging thrillers that centre on a fabulous performance from the film’s lead, and produce a constant, underlying level of tension and sheer energy. They’ve both got similar pacing problems and sinks into an outrageous third act, yet still offer an enjoyable time. Recommended.