An attractive young man named David (Dan Stevens) arrives at the front door of a family dealing with the grief of losing a son to war. The young man quickly makes himself useful around the house: he wins over the suspicious father (Leland Orser) and earns the gratitude of the mother (Sheila Kelley), the admiration of the son (Brendan Meyer), and the lust of the almost-21 daughter (Maika Monroe). Before too long David is making some of the family’s most cherished dreams come true. Yet, when we observe him in solitude he exhibits a disturbing stillness that is creepier than the slimiest ghouls that normally terrorise people in movies like this.
While it is amply obvious that something isn’t right about David, his actions–at least in the beginning–are so clearly geared towards helping the family that none of the characters in the movie take notice of his obvious creepiness. It’s only when things escalate that characters arrive at the realisation that this young man might well be the devil himself. I read somewhere that the filmmakers did away with several scenes that served to clarify how David came to be the way he is. What is so good about The Guest, and Dan Stevens’s performance in particular, is that it keeps on moving along while being unapologetic about where it is headed. Fans of Mr. Stevens from his stint on Downton Abbey will have a particularly difficult time reconciling the American-accented solider boy from this movie with the doughy lad they were used to watching on the television show.
While all the roles are distinct and played well by each actor, Anna Peterson, played by Ms. Monroe, deserves a special mention. Even after she is rendered breathless by the sight of David fresh out the shower she isn’t above investigating him the moment his actions appear suspicious. Ms. Monroe plays Anna with just the right amount of young adult ennui to make the character come to life in a way many, more feted actresses, might have failed to do. Director Adam Wingard is high up on my list of favourite filmmakers at the moment because his previous feature You’re Next was just as enjoyable as The Guest is. Working off a script by frequent collaborator Simon Barrett, this horror movie that is paced like a thriller just keeps on going like a well-oiled machine; or a super soldier.
Final Analysis: This is the type of horror thriller that I could definitely stand to watch more often.
My Advice: Look this one up the first chance you get.