While the Peterson family begins to settle into the process of grieving for their son, a stranger enters their life unannounced. David (Dan Stevens), a squad member of Caleb Peterson, insists his presence is to honor his comrade’s dying wish of checking up on his family. After being accepted by the Petersons, some of the family begin to doubt his true presence.
As a tribute to 1980’s cinema, The Guest plays on various clichés like the bullied outcast, a rebel daughter and a rather small-scale setting. The realism of the characters is spot on, as the parents go from arguing about David’s visit to fully embracing him as one of their own. You can really get a sense that his presence acts as a coping mechanism for Caleb’s death. In an effort to not spoil the film, the plot is fairly simple yet delivers a fair share of surprises that flirts with mystery. Whether you predict the outcome or not, the film is enjoyable from start to finish.
Though all the characters present are believable, Dan Stevens’s performance for sure has put him on the Hollywood map. Not only does the London native nail a light Southern accent beyond validity, but he captures the attention of the audience every second on film. From the moment David is introduced, he immediately becomes one of the most likable characters in recent years — all thanks to sky-blue eyes, a caring personality and well-developed manners. His facial expressions are mesmerizing as he switches emotions on a dime.
The music is without a doubt one of my favorite aspects of the film, and I immediately searched the soundtrack once the film ended. Filled with predominantly synthwave and new wave, The Guest draws from films like Fright Night and various John Carpenter classics. The throwback tunes develop a sense of eerie and horror, complementing the film’s being set near Halloween.
From top to bottom, The Guest is a perfect representation of a modern 80’s classic, which is often attempted but rarely achieved. The film even manages to pull off cheese that would otherwise be corny in a different genre. Whether you’re a fan of the 80’s or indie films, The Guest is a must watch for anyone with Netflix.