It’s hard for a movie to provoke emotions from me these days. Sure Pixar can make me sad and big budgets can make my heart race, but these are expected responses. You go into the film fully aware of what is about to happen and you are mentally prepared. I'm not saying it is impossible to surprise me, I've been shocked countless times by twists I didn't see coming. However this movie actually made me gasp aloud, which is a whole tier above your run of the mill shocking turn. The Guest was released in 2014 and stars Dan Stevens and Maika Monroe. Maika is one of Hollywood's brightest young stars who delivers consistent performances. While I had never heard of Dan Stevens, he looks like the love child of Ryan Reynolds and Paul Walker. The movie is listed as a Thriller/Mystery, however, the mystery is short lived as the movie almost immediately ramps up the thriller aspects.
Before I watch a movie I will typically sift through some review sites to see what the general consensus is before I waste my time. The Guest did phenomenally with critics and performed above average with audiences. Usually I side with audiences, as they look at the movie with a more honest lens than critics, however, this time the critics were right. This movie goes above and beyond the minimal expectations I had and delivered a thrilling experience that keeps you entertained the entire way through. The music, while unconventional, often sets the BPM for a scene and dictates the overall flow of the film. Some of the shots are extremely unique and I couldn't stop myself from smiling.
I find the biggest problems with most low-budget thrillers is they get too serious at the end. Of course there is nothing wrong with a serious ending, but too often do I groan through a third act filled with tears, cheesy one-liners, muffled screams, and a corny ending. Now I’m not saying The Guest avoids all these cliches, but the third act is FUN. Sometimes directors get caught up in their project and forget the main goal is to entertain the audience. The movie does a brilliant job of keeping the audience interested and then giving them the pay off that is unfortunately never guaranteed. It’s rare to find a movie that can transition so perfectly from dread to humor to heartbreak to action and back to thriller.
While sometimes small-budget movies can be described as boring in the first half as the plot ramps up on a small set, I believe The Guest does a great job of keeping the audience on their toes until the payoff. While the film does feel a bit rushed towards the end, it does so to set up an exciting third act, not to clean up loose ends. At the end of the day I laughed, gasped, smiled, screamed at the TV, and was entertained for the entire 100 minute runtime. This movie is an easy recommendation and I believe most people who view it will also recommend it.
EMDb Score: 8.5/10
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