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He Said, She Said Review Site

The Guest

What She said:

She

Downton Abbey fans, you should be very familiar with actor Dan Stevens, better known as the beloved Matthew Crawley. For those who were sad to see Dan exit Downton after Series 3, you’ll be thrilled to once again reacquaint yourself with him in the film The Guest. Although, you’ll be seeing a much different side of Mr. Stevens in this film.

Slimmer, more rugged, and a lot creepier, Stevens plays David Collins, a war veteran who shows up one day at the doorstep of the family of one of his former war buddies Caleb Peterson. Caleb died in action over in Afghanistan, and the family continues to struggle to move past his loss, and so the mother is sympathetic when out of the blue David arrives and says that he’s there to honor Caleb’s legacy. Laura Peterson invites David in and tells him to stay the night, despite the fact that he’s a completely random guy who she’s never met or even heard of before.

The Guest

Of course, her husband Spencer is a bit suspicious upon arriving home and setting eyes on David. However, he, too, quickly comes around to the guy. Afterall, David is polite, helpful, and seems like a genuinely decent person who is starting a new life for himself after his recent release from the hospital. The Petersons have two children, Anna and Luke, and they too seem OK with David. In fact, David wins some brownie points with young Luke after beating the snot out of some kids who had been bullying him at school. Anna even makes David a mix CD of her favorite songs, and there seems to be a little bit of an attraction there.

However, Anna starts to wonder about David. People in town start winding up dead, and Anna’s boyfriend is framed as a murderer. Anna decides to check up on his background by calling the military, and when she does so, she sets off a chain of events that simply do not end well. David turns out to be much more of a threat than he bills himself as, and the body count starts to add up.

The Guest

With a total box office pull of $1.9 million, I guess it’s not shocking that I had never heard of this film prior to seeing it pop up for rental on Amazon. It’s one of those independent offerings that first appeared at Sundance. That said, I wouldn’t say that this mystery/thriller really feels like an independent movie. It’s not artsy or too outside-the-box in any way. It’s just a relatively predictable and straightforward thriller. It has a bit of a B-movie element to it in that so much of it is just plain irrational, but it’s clearly done with an air of fun. This movie in no way takes itself too seriously, and feels like a bit of a throwback. It’s not particularly long, is fairly graphic and violent, and will not bore the viewer.

The acting is fine. Nothing special either way. It’s about what you’d expect from a movie like this, as is the production value. Actually, some of the fight sequences are quite well done. It’s weird to see Matthew Crawley kill like a trained assassin, but I have to say that I enjoyed it. This movie is a decent watch any time of year, but it’s very well suited for around Halloween. It’s not a horror flick by any means, but it has a little bit of mystery to it that makes it compelling and somewhat spine tingling.

This is a light, yet graphic film. It won’t win any Academy Awards, but it’s an altogether an easy watch and one that I found pretty appealing.

Thumbs up.


The Guest


What He said:

He
The Guest

The Peterson family is struggling to cope with the loss of their son Caleb, who died in the war in Afghanistan. Ironically, after another morning spent mourning her son, Laura Peterson gets a knock at the door.

It’s a guy named David, who says he served with her son. She’s taken aback, but invites him in. David is clean cut and extremely polite. He says he is there to deliver a message from David and follow through on a promise he made to Caleb. He claims Caleb asked David to look after his family. David takes this pledge very seriously and fully intends on following through.

He does not impose on the family, but when he is asked to stay he immediately accepts. He was going to stay at a hotel for a few days and then skip town and look for work, however Leland (the father) says there is plenty of work in their town and he should stay with them until he gets on his feet.  Laura took to David almost immediately. Leland was skeptical at first, but takes a liking to him after a short while. They appreciate him delivering Caleb’s message and actually start to treat him like a son after a while.

The Guest

What do I mean by that? For starters, Laura forces her daughter Anna to take him to a party and show him around town. Anna (Maika Monroe) is suspicious of David from the second he shows up. She represents the audience and therefor finds his extremely polite and calm demeanor to be creepy. But she respects her mother’s wishes and brings him along to the party. David also gets involved with the son Luke, who is having problems with some bullies. David doesn’t just beat them up, he completely obliterates them. Imagine someone who was in the military, and has a lot of training even for a military person, fighting a bunch of punks who think they are the shit.  Luke (Brendan Meyer) also takes on a newfound sense of confidence. He gets into a fight at school with a student who wants revenge for what David did to him. When Luke gets in trouble at school for the incident, David goes with Laura to discuss the issue with the principal. The part of the plot that revolves around David, Luke, and their relationship is actually a pretty interesting subplot.

Now, I know what you are thinking. This guy, who isn’t related to the family, goes with the mother to discuss her son’s problems with the principal? The movie addresses how weird this is and the almost hypnotic effect David seems to have on all those around him. The principal questions who he is, but is also terrified of him. Laura doesn’t bat an eye when David asks to go along. Her response is along the lines of, “Yeah, you should go. You’re right!” It’s a strange situation, but it’s also clear that something is going on with the guy.

The Guest

Random things start to happen around town. Leland gets a promotion only days after being passed over for it. Bodies start to pile up around town. Anna’s boyfriend, whom her parents did not like, is accused of murdering at least one of them.
Anna begins to question if David is who he says he is and calls the military as a result. Without giving too much away, Major Richard Carver, who seems to work in a branch of the military so secret  that only a handful of people know of its existence. Major Carver (Lance Reddick) shows up at the Peterson’s home and…well things get ugly.

I remember seeing this image on the web for a while, so I knew of this movie’s existence. I never watched the trailer and only read a very brief synopsis. I remember thinking it sounded like some kind of thriller. But then it started to pop up in a lot of “Best of 2014” lists and I started to get interested in it the more I read about it.

I wouldn’t say it’s not a thriller, but it’s more of an action thriller than a straight thriller. It slowly transitions into a horror movie as the story goes on. It’s not the only action horror out there, but the action genre isn’t something that is always thought of creating the backdrop for a horror movie. I liked that, especially when you consider the military aspect. It was a nice change of pace.

Speaking of the military aspect, I won’t say too much, I can’t really because the movie leaves things fairly ambiguous, but David has gone through an extreme amount of training. He is essentially Jason Bourne if Jason Bourne were the bad guy in a horror movie. Dan Stevens offers an eerie , and sometimes funny, performance as the mysterious and violent lead to waltzes into the Peterson’s  life and does whatever he can to ensure he’s “taking care” of them per Caleb’s wishes; even if it means destroying the lives of others.

Maika Monroe continues the tradition of a strong female lead in the horror setting. I’m not sure why this character type has such strong roots in the horror genre, but it’s a staple. The character was nothing new, but when things go bad and this reluctant hero is forces to take charge, she does. I believed it too, which is what matters.

The actors who played the parents were a little dopey, but I also think that was intentional, so it was fine.

The Guest

I wasn’t sure what to expect with this movie. I thought it would be graphic, and it was, but I wouldn’t call it gory. It wasn’t so much it was a turnoff. It was appropriate, and entertaining, given the subject matter. It had good action and was also a solid horror movie. It also had some comedic elements I did not see coming. I burst out into laughter more than a few times. I liked that way it unfolded too. I laughed a couple of times early on and wondered if I was supposed to be laughing at that. Then as the movie moves along, I realized that I was. It also had some artsy elements to it. The colors, cinematography, camera techniques, and music were all very distinct and surreal. If the movie was bad, I probably wouldn’t have care for it, but since I liked the rest of the movie, it felt like it fit.

This movie had a very limited release. It actually lost money because of that. It cost $2 million to make and only brought in $1.9. That’s a shame when you consider some of the crap that gets released by a major distributor. There are so many bad movies, and bad horror movies, that it’s a bummer one of the good ones can’t get support. If you like action movies, horror movies, and dark comedy, I recommend checking it out. It’s like a combination of Drive, Cabin in the Woods, and Daybreaks in tone and feel.

This movie review was given the He said, She Said seal of approval on January 21, 2014.

Rating: Thumbs up.