You’re Next’s tandem—Adam Wingard and Simon Barrett—have delivered one of the year’s best films in The Guest, a stylish pulse-pounding thriller that goes completely off the rails in brilliant bullet-flying fashion. In The Guest, a soldier introduces himself to the Peterson family, claiming to be a friend of their son who died in action. After the young man is welcomed into their home, a series of accidental deaths seem to be connected to his presence.
Practically genre-defying, The Guest is such a unique monster of a film that once Wingard starts to pull back its layers, you’ll discover that there’s something entirely different hiding under all of that skin. And that’s what makes this film so good, is that the further it moves along, the crazier it gets. And even through its darkest moments and unnerving intensity, Wingard and Barrett somehow found a way to inject a little bit of humor into it.
The impossibly hard to figure out David (Dan Stevens), is such a complex character, one that you’re forced to trust despite the dark cloud that hangs over his head. And I think that’s where Wingard really digs his claws in because he uses David as a device to keep us all on edge; it’s what makes the rest of the film’s characters so valuable, too. There’s the youngest brother, lost in a sea of high school bullying who sees David as a friend at a time when he needs one more than ever. The way that he looks up to David is the perfect contrast to how his sister, Anna (Maika Monroe), feels about their mysterious guest. Anna is immediately skeptical about David, asking all the same questions that we have running through our heads. Who is he? Why is he here? What’s his secret?
And this is how we’re hooked into Wingard’s psycho-thriller, because David gives us a reason to stay along for the ride, even when it starts to get a little nuts. Once The Guest starts to unravel and we begin to see its true colors, its go big or go home attitude delivers a bold as hell finish, one that will leave you begging for more.
But perhaps the film’s biggest achievement, beyond its career-defining performance from Dan Stevens and smart action beats, is how Wingard infuses a brilliant use of music that drips with atmosphere as its silky smooth beats and 80s heavy pulse ticks alongside the film seamlessly. For my money, there was no better soundtrack this year that captured the mood and tone of a movie so perfectly.
Is it even possible to make a slasher movie with guns and grenades? Because that’s what The Guest is; equal parts psycho-slasher and action-thriller, this is the kind of movie that genre fans are going to eat up. With a batshit, insanity-fueled finale, The Guest is a transfixing slice of B-movie gold.