Film, DVD, Blu-Ray & Streaming Reviews - By Fans For Fans



 Directed by Adam Wingard.
Starring Dan Stevens, Maika Monroe, Leland Orser, Sheila Kelley, Lance Reddick,
Joel David Moore, Brendan Meyer.
USA 2014 100 mins Cert: 15

Available Now on 4K UHD / Blu-Ray from Second Sight.


Adam Wingard’s eclectic directorial career has, in less than two decades, veered from the spiky, memorable low-budgeters HOME SICK (2007) and A HORRIBLE WAY TO DIE (2010) to the colourful monster-mash blockbuster GODZILLA VS KONG (2021), with the knowing latter-day slasher YOU’RE NEXT (2011) and generally effective belated sequel BLAIR WITCH (2016) somewhere in between. With regular screenwriting collaborator Simon Barrett, he unleashed this clever, inventive throwback thriller as an inverted HALLOWEEN filtered through THE TERMINATOR. It both resurrected the post-FATAL ATTRACTION 1990s fad for home-invasion / glossy domestic slasher movies and followed a strain of 1980s-infused, synth-driven urban nightmares like DRIVE (2011) and MANIAC (2012).


The set-up suggests conventional psycho-drama territory, though repeat viewings (and the thoughts of the makers on this disc) highlight the sly, playfully satirical elements bubbling under the slick surface. Hunky Dan Stevens shows up at Leland Orser and Sheila Kelley’s family home, exploiting their grief-stricken naivety with a tall tale of serving with their late son in combat and, following his own discharge, stopping by to pay his respects. They let this well-mannered young man stay in the son’s old room – and he prove popular with both their bullied younger son and hormonal teenage daughter Maika Monroe. Scaring off bullies and malicious exes alike, the heroic new guy in town also has a dangerous streak a mile wide.


To its great credit, THE GUEST – though gripping if taken as a straight-faced thriller – gets odder and funnier as it goes along. Wingard and Barrett wittily employ tropes of the sub-genre, with all the adults proving stupidly unsuspecting of The Guest’s sinister side while the perceptive kids are more inclined to question his sincerity. Set to a pulsing, evocative synth soundtrack (incorporating an original score by the great Steve Moore that’s heavily influenced by HALLOWEEN III: SEASON OF THE WITCH), the picture takes a marvellous detour into deliberately overblown retro-80s action movie territory for slo-mo machine gunfire and explosions.


Magnificent 80s (or pseudo-80s) electronic and Goth-pop aside, the biggest pleasure remains its anarchic edge, resulting in a showstopping assault on an all-American diner set to the strains of Stevie B’s schmaltz classic “Because I Love You”, and a droll climax at the school’s Halloween celebrations. The punchline is also a splendidly throwaway homage to vintage slasher cinema. The talented Monroe is a standout as the daughter torn between teen lust and instincts while Stevens shines in a star-making, pitch- perfect balance of immense charisma and simmering psychosis.


Second Sight gave this movie an all-guns-blazing special edition last year, but now’s your chance to grab the standard 4k Blu-ray edition, minus the book, CD soundtrack, et al but porting over the expansive extras package. A major attraction, of course, is the fabulous new UHD transfer, bringing renewed lustre to the daytime sequences, invigorating the Halloween maze climax and thriving on the film’s use of natural light – while not losing the natural grain of its 80s forebears. Several key players provide a comprehensive guide to its conception, production and release: Stevens notes the producers loved the idea of the DOWNTOWN ABBEY guy as a nutjob, while Monroe, producers Keith Calder and Jess Wu Calder, production designer Tom Hammock, Steve Moore and cinematographer Robby Baugartner all chip in with engaging anecdotes. You also get 15 minutes of deleted scenes, two commentaries almost a decade apart with Wingard and Barrett and the same good-humoured, insightful duo in a new 49-minute interview.


Steven West.


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Film, DVD, Blu-Ray & Streaming Reviews
By Fans For Fans