Runtime: 99 Mins
What To Expect: A film that suffers from lack of depth, but covers it up with crowd pleasing psychotics
If you ask me, you could do worse to round off 2014 than The Guest, a a taut psychological thriller with old school ’70s thriller DNA with a lick of 21st century polish. I caught this film earlier in the year and for whatever reason did not get around to reviewing it. I watched it a while after seeing Killer Joe, which to be quite blunt was a somewhat similar movie but basically a pile of disgusting crap. Sometimes subtle characterisation mixed with violence wins out, y’know?
A former special forces soldier shows up at the home of his fallen comrade’s grieving family. Basically living on the road, he accepts their hospitality as they use him to cope with their grief. Coping with the grief soon turns to Bronson-style vigilantism, such as beating to a pulp the bullies of his army friend’s kid brother, who are older and in larger numbers. Or dealing with jock douchebags who can’t take no for an answer. If you watch the trailer though – one of the best of 2014 by the way, something is not quite right. The interloping soldier, played by Dan Stevens, is just too good to be true. A big brother, a replacement son and a heart throb lust interest for the angst-ridden daughter all at once.
The first half of this movie plays to the crowd. There’s a touch of manly movie classic Shane in this movie, with the hero clearing house and breaking cue sticks over the backs of hateful pissants, all while addressing his hosts as ‘Sir’ and ‘Ma’am’. It struggles to leave a pay off though – why is this guy doing what he’s doing and what is he really hiding. That’s the big question that doesn’t get a satisfactory answer. I mean, it ties things up and gives you conclusions, but I was hoping for something of more substance.
Don’t expect The Guest to have the back story and undercurrent promised in the trailer. And if you do that you’ll find it’s sure as fuck a fun ride regardless. Dan Stevens probably saves the movie from other serious limitations, good screen presence the guy has going on there. I would’ve preferred a stronger ending, but you can’t win ’em all.