Article first published as Sundance 2014 Movie Review: 'The Guest' on Blogcritics.
Last August, director Adam Wingard whipped up the horror genre into a deserved frenzy when Lionsgate finally released his You’re Next.
Filled with amazing kills and huge laughs, it was a breath of fresh air
in a year already full of surprisingly terrific genre offerings. Now,
Wingard brings The Guest to the Park City at Midnight category at
this year’s Sundance. With more energy than most films know what to do
with, Wingard — along with his partner in crime, writer Simon Barrett —
have given us the love child of Starman, The Terminator, and The Bourne films that we didn’t know we needed.
David (Downton Abbey’s Dan
Stevens) arrives at the home of the Petersons’ who are still grieving
the loss of their son Caleb in Afghanistan. While Luke (Brendan Meyer)
takes a liking to David as he helps him gain some self-confidence to
deal with bullying at school, his sister Anna (Maika Monroe) just
doesn’t trust him. Tension starts to mount when one of Anna’s friends is
killed, and her father’s (Leland Orser) co-worker commits suicide,
prompting him to get a promotion. And she’s flat out told by the Army
that David is actually “David,” a participant in an experiment that’s
turned him into a deadly weapon on the run.
Say what you want about Wingard, but he’ll do whatever he wants. The Guest
is a welcome return to the anything goes and bigger is better action
clichés of the ’80s. The music instantly calls to mind the films of John
Carpenter — another lesson learned from making You’re Next.
Wingard isn’t scared to jump from comedy to action to possible sci-fi at
the blink of an eye here. Keep your eyes peeled for some
self-referential Easter eggs.
also outdoes most big budget action films on what can only be assumed
as one percent of their budgets. The final scene is another hilarious
gotcha moment that will make it hard to wipe the grin off your face
leaving the theater. Stevens is hilarious as the murderous heartthrob
and, if this was the ’80s, he’d probably have posters hung up on geek
girls’ walls. Wingard is at the top of his game with no sign of slowing
down, and I can’t wait to see what he delivers next.
Photos courtesy of Sundance Institute