Synopsis: 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
Dan Stevens, best known for his star making role in Downton Abbey, couldn’t have strayed to much further from his English period drama beginnings with the lead role in Adam Wingard’s jet black comedy-thriller The Guest. Yet this may make him an iconic name
in the same way Drive did for Ryan Gosling. And the similarities don’t just stop at both having ridiculously piercing blue eyes. Both actors also share a rare charismatic quality where they can make even the most unsettling character feel uniquely empathetic.
Nicholas Refn’s cult classic lingers as a heavy influence in The Guest as Stevens’s charming, handsome and gentle soldier delicately inserts himself into the family home of his fallen soldier brethren. There on the premise that the Petersen’s son asked the mysterious David to tell each of them he loved them as he lay dying, David’s aww shucks charm and ability to help each of them with their respective problems (youngest son’s bullies, dad’s shitty job situation, mom’s inability to assert herself) means he is quickly part of the family fabric. With Steven’s playing David as ice cold, stoic and yet paradoxically warm and empathetic his performance is certainly one to draw comparison’s with Gosling’s mysterious Driver, albeit not nearly as nuanced or powerful as THAT iconic performance. Similarly Wingard uses a similar dark electro score and short, sharp moments of pronounced violence to great effect.
If the first two thirds are reminiscent of Drive then the last third loses any discipline as it goes into full bonkers action thriller/slasher horror. It doesn’t lose any of it’s sense of identity though as David tries to protect himself the only way he knows how to do in the face of a shady military organisation hellbent on finding him.
Conclusion: A fun and at times very funny thriller with a great electro soundtrack. Dan Stevens looks like he is the next British leading man set to dominate Hollywood along with his close friends Tom Hiddleston and Bumblesniff Crankleton.
Cast: Dan Stevens, Maika Monroe, Brendan Mayer, Sheila Kelley, Leland Orser, Lance Reddick