Monday, January 11, 2016

The Guest


  I'd heard a lot of buzz about this flick from critics and some of my own friends personally. I was hearing things like "Badass!", "Stellar 80's vibe!" and such thrown around. Yet I couldn't reconcile that with the boring poster and the blandly uninformative Netflix description. Nevertheless, I knew I was gonna watch it sooner or later, so I kept it within reach, and thanks to an ill timed fit of insomnia last night, I had the perfect opportunity to watch it. Or rather, I'd just ran out of excuses not to. I can safely say I regret taking this long to watch it. It really is buzz-worthy and probably the best thing director Adam Wingard has done to date.

  I think that's the other reason I wasn't hyped about this movie. Wingard strikes me as a guy with a lot of potential, but he keeps falling short- at least for me. He did segments in the first two V/H/S movies, as well as a short in The ABC's of Death. Now, I like all three of those movies, but his contributions didn't thrill me anything special. Then, I had heard good things about You're Next. I saw it, and it was good but the story let me down. Didn't care for the story at all, and I felt it undercut all the tension and scares he had built up to that point. So what about this movie? The Guest. Well, it's a really unique flick to be honest. It's not quite a horror movie, or an action movie. But... has strong elements of both.

   Yet I think it's probably safest to call it a thriller. It's equal parts creepy and badass. The story is rather thin, but I'm not complaining. I felt that You're Next could've benefited from a more vague and ambiguous story, instead everything was meticulously explained. Which is what he doesn't do here. The Guest is about a soldier named David who introduces himself to the Peterson family- the family of a comrade of his who died in Afghanistan and ends up staying with them for a few days, all while helping each family member out in odd ways. It's a fairly simple set up and really fresh too, I never could really guess why David was there but he clearly had ulterior motives. Or did he?

  The movie never quite clarifies some of those things, but he's obviously a very dangerous person. I was on the edge of my seat the whole time. I was genuinely engaged, way more than I thought I'd be. The movie is a taut and suspenseful mystery-thriller with a vibrant retro 80's aesthetic. Which is especially apparent in the awesome soundtrack. The music in this movie is simply fantastic. What's interesting to me is how this movie could've been so dry and boring, but it's really not. It has a very unique vibe to it that keeps it ticking along. Between the characters, the colorful settings, and the fantastic soundtrack, The Guest is positively alive with electrifying energy and style.

  The pulsing synthesizer sounds of the soundtrack range from badass and empowering, to unnerving and haunting- just like David himself, and the plot as well. Everything about The Guest is very in sync. That's not to say it's perfect, I think it has some minor issues throughout, but nothing that hindered my enjoyment of the movie. As the movie progresses and you start to see who the real main characters are going to be, I was pleasantly surprised. Both David and the Petersons' daughter, Anna, play off of each other really well. They have some great moments together. I felt David was a surprisingly sympathetic character right up to the end, but this is only floated by a couple throwaway lines and of course David's performance himself.

  He's part Jason Bourne, part Terminator, and the movie seems to be aware of how lethal the mix would be. The action scenes are fantastic and the choreography is on point. Not to mention the cinematography and production design. Anyways, I don't wanna spoil anything, so I simply recommend that you see it. It's on Netflix, and it's a great way to kill an hour and a half. It's not perfect, and could've used a stronger narrative leg to stand on in the last act, but nonetheless, it deserves to be seen a lot more. Great performances and richly atmospheric, The Guest is a uniquely enjoyable creepy/badass mystery-thriller that you really shouldn't miss.

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