A soldier (Dan Stevens) befriends the family of a fallen comrade. There’s more to him than meets the eye, which quickly becomes evident as people in the town begin to die.
Adam Wingard pulls off a ballsy move with The Guest by focusing on a classic idea in Hollywood; the outsider inserting himself into a small community. It’s always a great premise and made even better when there’s a sense of mystery around the central character.
In this case the mystery lies not with the plot, Wingard hides very little there, but with the character’s motivations. We never know what Stevens’ character is really thinking, and initially one might even question if he is even a human being. It’s genuinely creepy and instantly sets a unique tone for the film from the first five minutes.
The fundamental driving force behind the plot is a little silly and detracts from the suspense. The synth soundtrack, although effective for the most part, feels a little jarring sometimes. The film is peppered with moments where Wingard tries a little too hard, and again this takes us out of the action.
That said for the most part The Guest marries a disturbing central performance, a classic old premise and an 80s soundtrack to make a thriller like no other. It’s an experience; a hard sell on paper but a definite success on screen.