The Guest premiered at Sundance back in January, and has finally seen its nationwide release this month - directed by Adam Wingard of You're Next fame, The Guest is a psychological thriller that relies on its excellent pacing and subtlety to develop an unsettling yet fun experience, in spite of its underdeveloped narrative.
David Collins (Dan Stevens) is a soldier from Afghanistan who, after being discharged, immediately locates the family of his late friend Caleb who died in battle. After ensuring their safety as promised on Caleb's deathbed, he is taken in for a few days as a guest until he can find his own place, but as time goes on disputes and complications arise as to who David really is - and what dark secrets lie in his past.
Adam Wingard's direction perfectly constructs The Guest into a tense and well paced thriller - subtle touches in each scene leave us on the edge of our seats, even if nothing violent or dramatic is taking place. When secrets are revealed and the build up to the climax begins, things get incredibly tense, drawing us into the unnerving emotions of the characters as the plot twists unfold. Fantastic performances across the board make it all the more gripping; Stevens has mastered his well written character, and co-star Makai Monroe is just as superb with hers.
Unfortunately the films storytelling is sometimes a little weak; everything feels a bit vague and while this helps to challenge the audience, it ultimately makes the story a little flimsy with no solid ground to rest on. Leaving audiences to guess important things makes the plot feel a little lazy, and although very brief conversations attempt to reveal crucial plot details, they end up failing miserably - particularly when dialogue is drowned in a loud soundscape. While it makes everything feel a little less impactful, The Guest still remains a cleverly directed and fun thriller; stylistic violence, a fab soundtrack and excellent pacing make it an enjoyable watch in spite of its minor flaws.