A beautiful mystery

Adam Wingard’s “The Guest” is an action-packed, captivating thriller.

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Mary Strother, Writer

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If you have been looking for a movie that combines horror, action, drama and comedy, all with a color palette and synth soundtrack straight out of the 1980’s, look no further than “The Guest.” This genre movie directed by Adam Wingard is not only pleasing to the eyes and ears, but engages the audience in a mystery so intriguing, it does not really matter if it ever gets solved.

David Collins (Dan Stevens), is a soldier recently discharged and looking for a place to stay while he decides what to do with his life post-Army. He arrives at the home of the Peterson’s, whose son Caleb was an Army soldier killed in combat, and tells them he knew their son and promised him he would look out for the family. His Southern charm wins over each member of the family — to the mother Laura (Sheila Kelley), he is a reminder of the son she lost. To the father Spencer (Leland Orser), he is a confidant and drinking buddy. To the son Luke (Brendan Meyer), he is a self-defense coach and respite from school bullies. And to the daughter Anna (Maika Monroe), he is a friend in a lonely point in life. Soon, however, Anna notices something is not quite right with David. He is making strange phone calls and never shows his identification, answering few questions about himself or where he comes from.

A little investigation turns up dark secrets about David’s past — ones that make no sense to the family who had thought they truly knew him. Before they know it, the Peterson’s are in grave danger and David proves to be more lethal than previously imagined. The ending scene, without revealing spoilers, is one of the most uniquely shot scenes I have seen in awhile — all of it takes place inside a Halloween maze, filled with fog, fun mirrors and colored lights. The pacing keeps it short enough to make the action tense and exciting, but long enough to make sure that it is fully explained for the audience, though some key plot points are left unanswered, keeping the dense aura of mystery around the film.

Ultimately, “The Guest” is a hugely fun, action-packed thriller with a little something for everyone. If you are squeamish, the film may not be for you as there are a few scenes of bloody violence, but if you are a fan of horror or action, this movie provides a unique approach and stunning visuals to an exciting tale of intrigue.

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