If you’ve seen Dan Stevens playing Cousin Matthew Crawley in Downton Abbey then prepare to have your minds blown when you see him in a completely different role in The Guest.
Stevens plays David, an ex-soldier who visits the family of his friend who died whilst on duty. He is welcomed in to their home and soon becomes almost a part of the family as he helps out where he can. Then a series of accidental deaths begin that could be linked to David but his past is unclear and not all is quite what it seems.
Directed by Adam Wingard and written by Simon Barrett, these guys love their horror but I’d say this is more of a thriller. They have done a stand up job and also selected a great, if somewhat surprising lead in Dan Stevens. The other characters are easily forgettable and all play the same basic role that you expect from this type of film. Leland Orser plays the unhappy/alcoholic father, Sheila Kelley as the mother trying to keep it all together. Their children, one being Maika Monroe as the teen with boyfriend issues and their youngest son played by Brendan Meyer who is looking for a role model and help against some local bullies. There isn’t a particularly bad performance, but none were great and let’s face it, all attention is on David as to what he is going to do next.
It does sometimes have the feel of a horror, some of the “accidental deaths” are brutal and the final 20 minutes were a bit bloody but the way the character is portrayed it feels more like an action thriller. There is also a bar fight that is incredibly well shot and makes David look not only invincible, but an absolute beast.
I was never quite sure about the background of the seemingly charming David and what his motivations were but I can tell you that the ending takes a huge turn for the worse and left me feeling a little bit sorry for the family that he had burdened himself on.
As previously mentioned, Dan Stevens was a huge surprise in this. He toned up massively and you can’t argue that he looks badass. Who knew that Cousin Matthew could throw a decent punch and fire a weapon with ease?
I really enjoyed this stylish throwback to thrillers of the 80’s. The action sequences were cleverly shot and never felt rushed. It was even funny at times, in particular the ending and its jumpy finale in the local schools haunted maze. Even the very last moment before the credits is a hilarious, far-fetched nod to past action thrillers that although seems silly, fits almost perfect and a nice way to round off the film.
Overall, this surprise hit gets a 3 out of 5 from me because I loved the action, the intensity, the twists, the arse-kicking soundtrack, but most of all, Dan Stevens. The best way to describe it, is as a forgettable classic, you’ll really enjoy at the time but when you think about it a few months later, you won’t remember a thing.
Thanks for reading!