The Guest is the proud recipient of our first review under the new criteria system. This new criteria system can be referenced from our Comics Post page, just next to this post. But, for those too lazy to read two articles in one sitting (I don't blame you), I'll give you a quick breakdown of the Horror Criteria review system. Every film we review on the site will be subject to a ranking under the follow three categories: Horror Qualifier, Horror Quality, and Film Quality. Each film will be judged and ranked based on its horror factors, how well the horror factors are presented, and the quality of the film separate from the bias of the horror genre.
The Guest was a film that simply struggles to be categorized. It is the perfect film to introduce to the Horror Qualifier. Despite its placement in the thriller genre and the difficulty of categorizing it anywhere else, the film lacks many of the characteristics common in most horror/thriller films. At its core, The Guest fails to scare or unsettle the audience. While it may disturb, due to the antagonist's cold persona, it never leaves the groove of its humorous undertone, and therefore the film fails to make any impact in a way that is common with the thriller genre. It is the dark humor present throughout that actually makes it more like a horror comedy than a thriller.
Despite the inability to properly categorize the film, The Guest had moments of entertainment. While by no means perfect, The Guest was held strong by a fun Dan Stevens in the role of the crazed killer, decent direction, and a score that could really put a smile on your face. I'd heard great things about the intense atmosphere of the film, yet what I watched was a pseudo-satire of Drive, in that our antagonist is almost an anti-hero with a short fuse-turned-bloodlust. For a majority of the film, the sadistic "guest" seems to attempt to do right in his own twisted and oft violent way. It was like a slightly less love-struck Gosling with a more clear-cut past that gradually unfolds as our mystery teaser throughout.
Given the parallels, it is hard to say that the film wasn't in some way pulling from Gosling's role, almost poking fun at the seemingly stable persona despite the violent tendencies Gosling portrayed. Could a verging-on-serial-killer sociopath really be able to function by merely being calm and collected? The Guest surmises not. Thus we get an eventual bloodbath that quickly spirals into almost a Red State turn of action/dark comedy.
So while our qualifier will push the boundaries on whether or not the film can be classified as horror, or even thriller, there is no doubt the film aims to be a dark and violent comedy that is meant to deliver more laughs than gasps. Which leads our poor "David" (Stevens) down a lonely path of sub categories in between. Regardless, there are worse films to watch on a lazy Saturday, so maybe you should catch it on Netflix.
Horror Qualifier Rank: 6/10
Horror Quality Rank: 2/10
Film Quality Rank: 4/10