How much higher would the ratings be if Downton Abbey ended in a massive shootout bloodbath courtesy of the late Matthew Crawley?
Your mother probably wouldn’t be tuning in every week I can tell you that much.
Dan Stevens, who plays Matthew Crawley in Downton, stars in The Guest as a soldier gone rogue. The film, which opens in theaters everywhere September 17, is much more than your average war story though. Instead, director Adam Wingard gives audiences a psychological thriller which pays homage to nearly every 80s horror film you can think of.
In The Guest, Dan Stevens’ character is David, a soldier who was just discharged from the army. His mission? To deliver a fallen fellow soldier’s final words and wishes to his family. The family decides that although this man is a complete stranger, it would be alright to let him stay in their small town home until he gets back on his feet again. Big mistake.
Everything is fine and dandy until the daughter, Anna (Maika Monroe), becomes suspicious of their friendly house-guest and things start to go awry. In order to avoid spoilers I will leave it at that. I am sure you can only infer what happens after.
Now The Guest is a special movie to Wingard and the writer of the film, Simon Barrett. At a recent screening in Phoenix they described how they wanted to make a movie that would pay tribute to the movies that inspired them to create films. Wingard specifically cited Big Trouble in Little China as one of the movies that he look towards when creating The Guest.
This is clear right from the beginning. The title card of the film is an almost exact replica of what The Thing had in its opening credits. All Kurt Russell films aside, The Guest took the idea of a 1980s cult classic and turned it in to a film they themselves can be proud of in 2014.
While every trope you can possibly think of is included in this movie, instead of being tediously predictable, it brings you back to the era in horror movies where you could be comfortable knowing everything was not okay. In fact, by the end of the movie everything is definitely still not okay. As a viewer, I actually had a great time pointing out and trying to recognize each movie the filmmakers chose to subtly reference.
The Guest is an interesting movie. It’s not offensively violent in this writer’s opinion, but it has just enough gore to keep the horror fanatic satisfied, and the older couples in the theater.
The real draw for the younger crowd should be the soundtrack. A pleasant variety of synth-pop sets the mood for the entire film. The soundtrack keeps your attention but simultaneously lets you know that although this movie is about to get real, you shouldn’t take it as seriously as you initially thought you should. Sometimes that is a great thing though. Sometimes movies and directors want you to have fun at the theater. The Guest is an example of this phenomenon.
If you are thinking about seeing a movie later this week, don’t rule out The Guest. Men will see it because of the implied action and women will go because of Dan Stevens. However, they will both end up laughing and enjoying the movie for the same reason.
The Guest is over the top, a bit corny, a little violent, and above all fun. If you love to indulge in John Carpenter movies, you need to get to this movie as soon as it releases in theaters on September 17.