Directed By: Adam Wingard
Release Date: September 17, 2014
Starring: Dan Stevens, Maika Monroe, Lance Reddick
Every so often, there's a movie that slips onto your radar, gets your interest, and then subsequently falls right back off, not by choice but by circumstance. Some films never come to your city; others do in a limited capacity, and yet you just can't manage to get the time to drive out and see it because life gets in the way. Whatever the case, it slips off your radar, life goes on, and then, one day, it finds its way back, and you get the chance - somehow, someway - to finally see it.
Adam Wingard's The Guest was one such film for me. I remember hearing good things upon its initial release that piqued my interest, but the film itself eluded me, disappearing almost as quickly as it had come before I had the chance to see it in theaters. Fortunately, however, we live in the Netflix era, and once I saw it turn up on the streaming service, my attention was grabbed once again, the film added to the end of a long queue, the positive word-of-mouth I continued to hear about it going a long way to build my excitement for it, though I deliberately chose to go into it knowing as little about the finer details of it as I possibly could.
The synopsis above is about as much as anyone seeing the film for the first time should know, as the unveiling of the mystery behind the titular character is a large part of the fun. Almost immediately, Wingard clues us in that something is, well, off when it comes to Dan Stevens' David, who turns up unannounced and spends a large chunk of the film swinging back and forth between being genuinely unsettling and incredibly charismatic, keeping viewers guessing as to what he's really doing there and what his motives are.
The film is made up of a number of familiar faces, with reliable character actors like Leland Orser, Ethan Embry, and Lance Reddick on hand to do what they do best, but the film truly benefits from having Maika Monroe - who starred in last year's It Follows - as its female lead, Anna. Just like in that film, she brings with her a sense of realism, and once her investigation into the truth sparks off a chain of events that begin spiraling past the point of no return, it's easy to root for her as the character never devolves into becoming a damsel in distress or one reliant on others for strength.
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