Review: Adam Wingard’s THE GUEST Entertains Like A VHS-Era Thriller

4 out of 5 stars

A lean and mean thriller, director Adam Wingard‘s 2014 film The Guest is a hugely entertaining affair. Wingard and screenwriter Simon Barrett keep this retro-style pic simple, delivering a quick set-up in order to craft some tense moments and punchy action sequences. 

Dan Stevens is David Collins, a former U.S. Army sergeant who arrives at the home of Spencer and Laura Peterson (Leland Orser and Sheila Kelly) claiming to have been friends with their dead son, Caleb. They take him into their home, almost like a surrogate for Caleb and he quickly befriends bullied son Luke (Brendan Moyer). A series of deaths around people connected to the family draws suspicion from daughter Anna (Maika Monroe), who slowly begins to believe that David is quite who he says he is. 

Wingard and Barrett have stated that their inspirations for The Guest include John Carpenter’s Halloween and James Cameron’s The Terminator – and you can see this in the film’s tone and synthwave soundtrack. Wingard’s film isn’t derivative, it’s just that the DNA of those films gives The Guest a visceral honesty. There’s the small-town drama of Halloween and the gritty action of The Terminator. The Guest feels like it could have been made 35 or 40 years ago – and that’s no bad thing. 

At the centre of it all is Dan Stevens, who impresses as the soldier who can turn from charming to deadly in seconds. It’s an impressive change of pace for the former Downton Abbey star and you can certainly see how and why James Bond casting rumours started. Everyone else also does good work – especially Moyer and Monroe. 

Moderate in scope, but delivering everything that you would won’t from this sort of claustrophobic thriller, The Guest is an entertaining VHS-era throwback.

Blu-ray Special Features

Where do you start with the brilliant special features on this Second Sight 4K and Blu-ray dual format release? It’s loaded with amazing extras. You get two commentaries from director Adam Wingard and writer Simon Barrett – a new one and an archive recording from the film’s initial release. Those guys do a good commentary – they’re informative and anecdotal. 

The release comes with detailed interviews with Wingard and Barrett, stars Dan Stevens and Maika Monroe as well as chats with other key personal which cover the films look, sound and production. Throw in deleted and extended scenes and you have a perfect release for The Guest. Recommended. 

The Guest is out now on 4K Blu-ray dual format from Second Sight. 

 

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