The Guest (2014) Capsule Review
Bloody film critics eh? Snobs, the lot of ’em, and most of ’em aren’t even qualified to publish their ignorant opinions, unless of course they’re connected to some corporate media entity which are exalted acolytes of the awards-industrial complex. Well, pushing aside those links and my remarks in my films of the year post that I believe that some art-house fare can be conceptually indistinguishable from franchise cinema, I will however admit it when I’m wrong, and that brings us to this evening’s bullet shredded entertainment The Guest. Alongside John Wick and The Purge 2 (wait, I think I’ve nailed a connection) the two genre films I most regret missing in 2014 was this uninvited personage, I stand by the trailer leaving me non-plussed but almost everyone whose opinions I respect was telling me to give it a try. I resisted but there were eyebrows raised in Menagerie towers when I saw it assaulting numerous 2014 films of the year list, here’s the condensed dossier which should set the mission parameters, solider;
Given the accolades this had a lot to live up to, I’d heard similar praise heaped on Adam Wingard’s previous genre busting effort You’re Next which I really didn’t care for, so I’m happy to report that the film just about headshots its doomed phalanx of genre scarred targets. It’s very funny as it plays with the mysterious conventions of the super badass with a secret past, a surrogate fantasy figure with more than a few haunting echos of PTSD to bring the horror back home. Yes, the John Carpenter influenced synth curated score is a delight (and 10/10 amusement points for throwing a Front Line Assembly track into the mix) but I’d extend my praise further, it crucially also has Carpenter’s anti-authoritarian sense of humor and careful appreciation of genre staging, the best movie he hasn’t made in the past twenty years. So often these self-aware pastiche films run out of steam from their limited concept as they pucker up to the third act showdown, but I was in side-splitting awe at just how fucking nasty it got in the last half-hour, not pulling its bone-crunching punches with a gloriously arranged finale that simultaneously homages The Shining, Enter The Dragon and The Lady From Shanghai – explosively recommended.
The good news is there will be more Carpenter contraptions reporting for duty before the month is out, the BFI have inaugurated a special cult cinema program and one of the first screenings in this strand should be quite the hellish treat. Coming back to the bloody critics here is the definitive 2014 list that the real players await with bated breath, exhaustive, irrelevant and frequently pretentious it is the end of year list to end all the end of year end lists – I’ll salute that comrade.