A houseguest and former soldier might not be quite what he seems.
Right from the chunky opening title and soundtrackdirge of The Guest, you know you're in for something a little bit special.
Which is hardly surprising, as its the latest film from Adam Wingard who, together with frequent collaborators like Simon Barrett and Joe Swanberg, has been bringing some new life to the horror genre in recent years. The Guest is undoubtedly his biggest movie yet but still manages to be clever, funny and - most important of all - riotously entertaining.
The Guest is all about balancing tone - taking elements of 80s movies in particular and mixing them with a knowing self-awareness as well as strong thriller sensibilities. It's not an easy amalgam to pull off, and as an audience member you really just have to be willing to go along for the ride.
Thankfully, Wingard has a sure hand behind the camera and uses plenty of music and cameraword cues to let us in on the joke. And he's got help from former Downton Abbey chap Dan Stevens. The Brit plays a former soldier who shows up to help the family of his comrade, who died in the Middle East and its a role that requires some very subtle and swift changes in look and personality. Stevens does a great job, especially in scenes that require him to stare creepily at things - he manages to be menacing while also adding an air of ridiculousness to proceedings.
It's not quite as spry as You're Next and I wasn't a massive fan of the second half, where some more generic elements start to creep in, but there's no denying The Guest is a film that aims to entertain and does so admirably. Though it might be worth mentioning that its more of an action thriller than a horror - you won't find much in the way of gore here.
The Guest isn't a film that will work for everyone, its a knowing homage on the one hand and somehow manages to conjure up an instant cult feel, complete with the kind of kitschy moments that would be perfect for a midnight screening at any horror festival. That might limit its mainstream appeal but for any genre fans looking for a good time, this is one to watch. Great soundtrack too.