The Guest

Movie posters can be a powerful thing, and in this case it was the poster alone that drove me to go and see The Guest. Sexy gun-toting man with a loud, grindhouse style title emblazoned across. It screamed ‘Drive’ to me, and seeing as I adored that I felt like The Guest would be worth my time. I am so glad I managed to see this movie. It is what it commonly known as a ‘slow burner’ but the obscene pay off is totally worth the 90 minutes or so where you just sit there having literally no idea what is about to happen. 

In some ways, The Guest is a lot like Drive. It has the distinctive soundtrack (embodied in The Guest’s case in a highly stylised electro/synth sound - slightly jarring to the untrained ear but at the same time totally unforgettable!), the Hollywood-style hot guy protagonist and the extreme violence that seems initially to come out of nowhere but which we gradually become desensitised to as the film builds up to the denouement. In many other ways, though, The Guest is totally stand-alone in its style. From the opening production company logos the film has all the connotations of a low budget indie movie. However, those who are fans of director Adam Wingard’s work (You’re Next, 2011; V/H/S, 2012) will recognise that this is simply his highly stylised approach to filmmaking. He simply makes cool movies and enjoys playing with genre. The result is so refreshing and extremely enjoyable to the film-goer who is bored of the same-old same-old, but also wants to see films go a step further than homage or parody.


The Halloween back-drop provides some delightful backdrops to each scene, most notably the final ‘chase’ through the school hall that has been decorated for a Halloween dance. Wingard’s use of mise-en-scene clearly points to someone who is a fan of themed attractions as perhaps the most iconic and thrilling moment of the movie takes place inside a horror maze. Like in fellow cult movie Donnie Darko, the use of horror genre codes and conventions as a backdrop to a non-horror narrative works marvellously and provides a cool and playful juxtaposition for the brutal violence on screen. The whole film watches like a ride on a ghost train, with vivid use of colour and harsh neon-style lighting setting off the, at moments, comical bloodshed. 

The Guest is a film not to be taken seriously, but to be consumed as a delight for the senses and a ‘ticking of boxes’ for genre fans. There are clever nods to iconic film scenes and characters throughout that movie buffs will find highly enjoyable, an excellent soundtrack and some great hammed up character work portrayed excellently by the lead cast. Do not go and see The Guest thinking it will be 2014’s thriller of the year, instead I suggest you approach it with the tongue-in-cheek mindset one employs when watching a dodgy old monster movie and I promise you will have a good time.