Call of Duty – ★★★★★
Adam Wingard and Simon Barrett probably came to most people’s attention last year with You’re Next, a gory slasher home invasion yarn with some impressive kill scenes. They’re back with another knowing tale of suspense and horror that will have fans of the genre rejoicing. Dan Stevens (Downton Abbey) is David, a returned home war veteran who calls at the house of a fellow comrade who fell in battle. The Peterson family are only too happy to allow him into their home, buoyed up with possible stories of their dead son.
David soon endears himself to all the family, helping the youngest boy with his bullying problem, the Dad with his job, the Mother with her sense of loss and is some nice eye candy for the daughter Anna, played by Maika Monroe. We soon realise David might be having too much of a hand in their affairs and could have some unresolved war issues. So when Anna starts making enquires neither she or her family are quite prepared for what lies in store.
The last third of the film is where the film enters familiar territory – thanks in some small way to the appearance of Lance Reddick (Lt. Daniels from The Wire) – who fills in the blanks. Some may find this tiresome and predictable, but it’s where the film shows how it knows it’s genre so well and packs in the right amount of black humour.
Due to the deft hand of Wingard, cinematographer Robby Baumgartner and aided by Steve Moore’s fantastic 80’s synth “Drive-lite” score, we know from the get go that this will be a tense ride where we’re never quite sure if David will crack a smile or someones’ head. Stevens is fantastic with his butter-wouldn’t-melt southern accent and split personalities. Brendan Meyer as the youngest Peterson family member Luke conveys the longing most boys have for a big brother and role model. Big Sister Anna is the one with any real brains in the family and as we saw in writer Simon Barrett’s previous outing You’re Next he can write strong roles for women.
The Guest is very aware of it’s genre, ticking all the boxes and it’s a delight to see a film pay homage to it’s predecessors while showing them a thing or two. It will no doubt cement itself into cult status and might even be a broader hit. Either way, one thing is certain, The Guest will become a Halloween night movie regular for years to come.
The Guest opens nationwide on Friday the 5th of September 2014