You’re Next was definitely the favourite of last year's Fright Fest. Most were very eager to see director Adam Wingard’s latest movie The Guest. Starring Dan Stevens, who is best known for appearing in Downton Abbey, the movie revolves around a small-town suburban family who lost a son in the Afghanistan war. David (Stevens) turns up unannounced one day to pay his respects and soon integrates himself into the family’s life, sticking up for the bullied younger brother and keeping an eye out for the stunning older sister. However, David is not exactly what he seems and soon, bad things start to occur around him.
Recurring Wingard writer Simon Barrett’s pleasingly exposition-lite script is key to the film’s success, but Dan Stevens’ brilliantly measured performance must come a close second. He totally nails the charismatic psychopath role in this and is brilliant to watch, keeping the audience guessing as to his character’s true motivations. The rest of the cast are also strong, in particular Maika Monroe, who provides scream queen/heroine qualities as the one member of the Petersons not wholly enamoured by the mysterious soldier. Brendan Meyer is dopey but likeable in the younger brother role and Sheila Kelley and Leland Orser convince as the feeble Mom and Dad.
The Guest is sharp, witty and most importantly, fun. It might not reach quite the same heights of brutality and gore as You’re Next, but as a slice of American, small-town life gone hideously wrong, it doesn’t make a single misstep. You could argue it takes its time to hit its stride in its early sequences, but the viewer may feel the slow-burn approach really paid off later and there are enough thrills and spills in the rest of the film to more than make up for any supposed time-taking. The Guest opened this year’s Fright Fest and has proven a very worthy choice.
The Guest is out this Friday