The Guest 2014 ****

Some time ago, I had a meeting in LA with some producers who claimed to have the rights to the James Bond film Thunderball; I guess that dates the story, since the rights are firmly back in the hands of the Broccoli family by now. They had a great, original idea to revamp the Bond myth and create a new franchise, and it was fun to discuss, in earnest, that eternal question of who would make a great James Bond. These days, I’m down for Daniel Kaluuya in an evolved, PC woke reboot, but there’s surely a case to be leaning into the dangerous edge for an old-school, retro Bond via Dan Stevens.

Stevens is a graduate of the Downtown Abbey tv show, but he’s a pretty versatile actor who is currently enjoying the limelight due to his inspired comic turn as the ecomaniac Russian in the Eurovision movie. He was, of course, the Beast in the Beauty and the Beast remake, yet for such big roles, Stevens isn’t quite the household name he should be, but his talents are well show-cased by this tight-little B Movie in which he manages to maintain a dangerous presence till the very last scene.

Stevens plays David, a soldier freshly returned from the war and inveigling his way into the suburban household of teen Anna (well-played by Maika Monroe). He’s got a way with guns and weapons that would put Jason Bourne to shame, but who is he and where does he come from? Although the Halloween-grotto school-climax could have come from any number of genetically-modified soldier thrillers, the lead up is consistently subversive and rich in portent, as David’s violent abilities are revealed in several disconcerting scenes in which he defends Anna from corrupting local influences.

A far more controlled film that director Adam Wingard and writer Simon Barret’s You’re Next, The Guest doesn’t need the John Carpenter nods from the titles onwards to announce itself as a promisingly taut thriller; it’s straight up, easy to recommend Saturday night popcorn thriller. If you’ve not seen it, a pitiful $0.99 on Amazon Prime in the UK should give you a crash-course in style from Dan Stevens. Link is below…


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  1. I totally adore this film! With its deep rooted black humour and a memorising performance from Stevens. The film deserves a sequel and I am glad that its now finding its own audience after being neglected on its original release!

  2. I hope Dan Stevens picks up some bigger roles in the near future, he’s so versatile! I wouldn’t have even known about The Guest if it weren’t for the bloggers.

    • That was the role that really broke him into my ideas; he’s really great in The Guest, and while he’s done a lot of lighter stuff, there’s untapped potential to be sure; no more Disney, Downtown Abbey or Dickens, I hope!

  3. Love it! I think it would be worth having an entire blog about strange encounters. I’ve interviewed Nicolas several times and it’s my opinion that he deliberately acts the walloper in these situations; thanks so much for this story! I’ve got a good one about accidentally mis-laying Charlize Theron’s cutlery at a buffet at the Egyptian Theatre ! I’ll save it for a special occassion….

  4. While I’m not fond of your choices for Bond as neither of them have that magic ‘Bond’ factor for me – I remember this film because of the oddest thing. It was the premiere at the newly renovated Ace Theater Downtown Los Angeles and it was stunningly redone. It was a Sunday late afternoon premiere and it was a packed house as there was a post Q & A with Director Adam Wingard & writer Simon Barrett by of all people Nicolas Winding Refn. So pre screening and party I’m speaking with them and they are the nicest guys.. Nicolas comes in and is just an asshole to pretty much everyone. Basically the dude is just arrogant and has no reason to be. So post screening – I liked the movie so so, it was different and for an indie and two somewhat new-ish guys to do, pretty good. Winding-Rehn just tore them apart during the post Q & A – like to the point of obnoxious and booing from the crowd. I don’t know how Simon & Adam held it together so well when being put down so hard by such an truly obnoxious person and for that I will always truly admire the both of them as I probably would’ve punched him..ha! Weird how we remember certain movies now that we really don’t get to go to theaters any more – every little detail of Q & A’s and such I remember with such clarity as who knows when we will ever get that back. Thanks for a good review of a strange memory. Cheers!

  5. One of my favourites of recent years. There is a little eyeroll Stevens does at the introduction of a big gun that makes me laugh every time. Absolutely marvellous stuff.

    • This should be his CV for Bond, there’s a dash of humour there which would work so well for the role. Really nice little thriller.

  6. Sounds interesting. Wingard and Barret were chafing a bit at genre conventions in You’re Next. But I guess that’s something every filmmaker does, especially these days. I’ll have to look for this.

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