It takes a brave man to tackle horror at MNFC. That is to say, outside of the usual safe confines of the annual Halloween Demon-ocracy. Certain Comrades have a severe aversion to this genre (I’m looking at you Matt and Lucy) and as such, the films that spook are usually reserved for the Demon-ocracy alone, where our collective approach means that the ensuing nightmares can’t be blamed on an individual, but the whole MNFC collective together.
As such, it was a brilliant surprise when Comrade Oli presented us with The Guest on a March evening in Hampstead, in his hosting debut.
Although terrifying at times, in fairness The Guest swerves closer to thriller than pure horror. Plus, Oli had eased us into things with delicious homemade bread and mushroom lasagna, rounded off with a rhubarb cake from Nel. And, he had even given us a choice of two films. We being hardened types… why would we ever chose a film called Tickled over such a terrifying experience as The Guest?! (actually, I do really want to see Tickled too, I’ve heard great things).
Hardened, yes we may be… but not in comparison to Dan Stevens’ protagonist in the film, David Collins, who has returned to small-town USA to visit the family of his army friend Caleb, who died in Afghanistan whilst they were serving together. In an attempt to avoid spoilers, let’s just say that I am reliably informed that Dan Stevens in this movie is a long way from his character in Downton Abbey. And having just watched him in Beauty in the Beast, the impact of The Guest had me shouting at Emma Watson to get the hell away! Never has “(Be Our) Guest” been so fraught.
The Guest was directed by Adam Wingard, who is making a name for himself in horror circles, taking the helm of frightener Your Next, and the recent Blair Witch remake. The Guest may seem to be full of many horror/thriller cliches, but my sense was that this was intentional. Even the name of the film sounds like a Point Horror title. Its references to teen horrors such as Carrie, Halloween and Nightmare on Elm Street are clear – although perhaps it is less blatantly homage or nostaligic than films like Scream. The 80s vibe, the choice of music, and the high school finale all hark back to the slasher heyday.
A highlight of the evening (and perhaps a contender for a Quote of the Year FAFTA) was Comrade Sam. During our post-film discussion we talked about movie Bad Guys, and how it takes a lot to kill them. Sam says, he got a paper cut once and had to sit down.
Now that is a movie I’d like to see.
I suppose in the end, The Guest is also the latest in a long run of films that portray war veterans on screen. It got me thinking about this subgenre, and certainly The Guest brought to mind elements from Rambo, Universal Soldier, and even Captain America. What is it with the USA and their super soldiers anyway?
For those who want a good debate about how movies portray war veterans, then this link is a good place to start… The article considers the Best and Worst portrayals of veterans returning home – have a look and let the chin-stroking begin!
In the meantime, I’m signing off from this review, locking the doors, hiding all knives and sharp objects… and I’m not answering the door to anyone, no matter how dazzling their blue eyes are.
Until the next time,
THIS IS NOT A DEMOCRACY