TIFF 2014 Review: The Guest
When there is a hole in your life, it’s easy to believe what you want and seek replacements. Better to be wary at times of vulnerability, lest that void is filled by a menacing stranger with questionable morals, dubious advice, and piercing blue eyes.
David (Dan Stevens) is the titular visitor in The Guest, Adam Wingard’s mesmerizing and twisted psychological thriller infused with wry humor and those aforementioned hypnotic peepers.
Returning from war (maybe), David seeks to send a message to the family of his deceased friend (maybe). He’s welcomed in, comforting a grieving mother, blue-collar father, curious daughter, and bullied son.
Yes, he becomes drinking buddy, protector, listener. He also starts acting really weird, and this taut, beautifully shot film slowly coils before it arches back violently and suddenly.
That moment might be when David walks out of the shower, chiseled body enveloped in steam as young Anna (Maika Monroe, fantastic) stares dumbly. Or perhaps when he casually hauls a pair of kegs into a house party.
Regardless, this devilishly fun and bloody thriller devolves into sudden, surprising madness, resulting in a double take once or twice. The escalation is sharp and bonkers, with Anna and her brother investigating while many start dying. And still, Wingard and writer Simon Barrett throw in jokes you feel uncomfortable laughing at.
Wildly entertaining and darkly absurd, The Guest grips you instantly, lulls you into safety, and takes you on a crazy, messy adventure – one that includes a random haunted house, of course.