The Guest is a serious person movie. Or it least it looks that way, from the first teaser trailer. Because the previous film from The Guest’s creative team (director/editor Adam Wingard and writer Simon Barrett) was You’re Next. And You’re Next was totally not a serious person movie, unless they’ve changed the definition of “serious,” and now movies with exploding brain-blenders and a guy who gets stabbed with like fifty screwdrivers are no longer campy.
The Guest seems slightly more elevated. Although the two premises are basically the same thing: a typical American family, beset upon by psychos. This time, it’s the Petersons, who’ve recently lost a son in Afghanistan and aren’t doing so well. Enter David (Dan Stevens), a kind soldier who served with their son and has come back to make good on a promise made on the battlefield. Reluctantly, the Petersons accept this new addition to their lives, and soon this military stranger is a welcome part of their big, happy family.
Oh, and also he has serial killer eyes and is probably murdering people or something.
Immediately, I get a huge hit of Drive from this teaser. We’ve got a strong, silent blonde with a hipster haircut, trying real hard to repress those “I will smash your face into a paste” emotions buried within. Also, nearly every shot of David in the trailer is set on making him look almost inhumanly stylish. Embellished by flashy disco lights, standing halfway out a door frame with his shirt off (like a murdery Nicholas Sparks hero), or posing for a laundry detergent commercial- he appears to be a robot, composed entirely of sunglasses and aloof facial expressions. Add some music that sounds like the aftermath of a factory explosion, and we’ve basically got Drive 2.0.
But knowing this is Wingard/Barrett and not Nicholas Winding Revn, the execution will probably be a little different. Bet on The Guest being a little less arty and a little faster paced. Also, it will probably take itself less seriously than Revn’s film did, because even if The Guest looks all icy cool and restrained, early reviews peg it with the same kind of black comedy that was found in You’re Next. So it might not really be as serious as the trailer makes it out to be.
Stevens is best known for being extremely British all over Downton Abbey, so feel free to show The Guest to the hardcore Downton Abbey obsessives in your life, and watch them gawk as the severed heads go flying.
The Guest hits theaters sometime this September.