The Guest Blu-ray Review
Written by Steve Pattee
Blu-ray released by Universal Home Entertainment
Directed by Adam Wingard
Written by Simon Barrett
2014, Region A, 101 minutes, Rated R
Blu-ray released on January 6th, 2014
Dan Stevens as David
Maika Monroe as Anna Peterson
Brendan Meyer as Luke Peterson
Sheila Kelley as Laura Peterson
Lance Reddick as Major Carver
Laura Peterson (Sheila Kelley) is still grieving the death of her son in Iraq when a young man, David (Dan Stevens), arrives at her door claiming to have served with him. Seeing how he's all respectful and courteous, she invites him in and David goes into detail about how he knew her son. Laura is a little hesitant to believe David at first, but after seeing him in a picture with her son, all doubt goes away and she invites her new guest to stay awhile. We all know how this goes.
It doesn't take long for David to infuse himself into the rest of the family's life with his charm. This guy is Eddie Haskell on steroids. And with sociopathic tendencies. Eventually, it becomes apparent to the family that David is not all he seems, something we've known all along, and the glorious, glorious violence begins.
That weak synopsis is intentionally vague because the less you know about The Guest, the more fun you are going to have. Prior to watching the movie, I've only seen one clip from it when I uploaded it to our YouTube channel. I hadn't even seen a trailer. The reason for this is I loved what the people behind this, Adam Wingard and Simon Barrett, did with You're Next, and I didn't need a trailer to sell me on it. I wasn't disappointed.
The Guest is boatloads of fun with its ridiculous over-the-top and unnecessary violence. This isn't really a horror film, and even though it has a ton of it, it's not really a full-on action film either. It's more of a (very) dark comedy and the filmmakers clearly have their tongue placed firmly in cheek. Sure, bullets and blood abound, but there's undercurrent of black humor that, even in the more surprising moments, you can't help but laugh.
Dan Stevens absolutely carries this film as the insane David. He doesn't display much emotion in the movie, and the little he does is phony. Don't confuse this with wooden acting, it's quite the opposite. He simply nails the character. He's very believable as a sociopath, and could easily pull off this character in something more dramatic as well (á la American Psycho).
The rest of the cast is solid in their cookie-cut roles. Maika Monroe does well as rebelling daughter Anna, and Brendan Meyer holds his own as bullied son Luke. Both characters lend to spectacular situations for David to…handle. Leland Orser (Se7en) and Sheila Kelley (Matchstick Men) are believable as husband and wife Spencer and Laura, with the former at first taking issue with David's sticking around but gradually growing to like the young man. It's always a pleasure seeing Orser on screen as he's always fun to watch. It was also a pleasant surprise to see Lance Reddick (The Wire, Fringe) show up as the mysterious government man. That man is made for those types of roles.
I would be remiss if I didn't mention The Guest's soundtrack that just bleeds the '80s. It's a mixture synthesizer-heavy songs from various bands to Steven Moore's original score, it's one of those albums you're going to want to pick up whether you like the movie or not. And the placement of Stevie B's ballad "Because I Love You (The Postman Song)" adds a level of chuckles to an otherwise surreal scene.
Wingard and Barrett have another winner here with The Guest. Its brutal violence, solid acting, dark humor, and '80s love makes it one I'll go back to time and again. Sure, its story gets a little ridiculous at times, but for those of that grew up in arguably one of the best eras of action films, you can put on a little suspension of disbelief and just enjoy what's going on in front of you.
Video and Audio:
The Guest's picture is gorgeous, with warm, natural skin tones and color that pops when appropriate. The scene at the end in the school is exceptional, where David is on the hunt in a pallet of red, none of which bleeds (no pun intended). Blacks are suitably deep and it's an overall wonderful picture.
The film's DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 is equally impressive with great use of the surrounds when needed, along with an appropriate use of the subwoofer. Dialog is never overpowered by the effects or soundtrack.
- Deleted Scenes
- Q&A with Dan Stevens
- Feature Commentary with Director Adam Wingard and Writer Simon Barrett
Seven deleted and extended scenes with optional filmmaker commentary open up the features. As with most instances, these don't add much to the movie and are better off on the cutting room floor. Included in this mix is a clown gag that is predictable but funny.
Dan Stevens' Q&A is frustratingly short at two minutes, to the point you almost have to wonder at why they even bothered to put it on the disc, especially when much of the piece is intermixed with clips from the film. Unfortunately, instead of anything in detail, you get nothing more than some fluff from a press kit.
Wingard and Barrett's commentary, on the other hand, is fantastic. There is a lot to be learned here and they make a concerted effort on not gushing on the actors (literally, Wingard says at one point that he doesn't want to take up the commentary by praising everyone). There's a variety of interesting tidbits and behind-the-scenes information to be heard here, so if you enjoy the film this is a must listen.