The Guest isn’t perfect but it’s pretty darn close.
“David” (Dan Stevens, Downtown Abbey) arrives unannounced on the doorstop of a grieving household. A friend of the family’s deceased son, he integrates himself into their lives. He is what each character needs him to be, except in the case of Anna (Maika Monroe, It Follows) who retains her initial suspicions. Some mysterious deaths and a phone call later, the film picks up, held together up to this point by compelling contrasting elements and characteristics.
The strange violent vibe acts in contrast to the households it is mostly set in, giving it an edge. It is the transition from the home comfort setting to the best Halloween dance hall to ever have existed, a place meant for innocent terror, that creates the fear however as it becomes the setting for real life violence. It hosts a surreal fear/thrill as the music is literally personalised as the two Peterson children discover that they are trapped in a world of darkness and smoke machines whilst the sun still shines outside.
The characters are all strongly played; the setting and the heavily electronic soundtrack all support the strange horror vibe that makes this film memorable. However the explanation for the violent acts is one of the weaknesses of the film, that and the military police. Despite it’s Exorcist font introduction, calling it a straight cut horror would be inaccurate, this is much more, creating a new feel strange stylish sense of excitement, a thriller if you will.