At the Movies – The Guest

by Meg Sklut ’18

Screen Shot 2015-02-01 at 7.17.53 PMDirected by Adam Wingard and written by Simon Barrett, The Guest blew my mind. Imagine two horror film buffs who previously collaborated on You’re Next working on an 80s-like thriller, and The Guest is what you’d get.

Dan Stevens (the beautiful Matthew Crawley of Downton Abbey) plays David, a former soldier who visits a family who has lost their son, Caleb, in war. Claiming to have known Caleb, David stays with the family, saying that Caleb wanted him to look out for them. As David stays longer, we see him try to protect the family, though something about him seems off.

Suddenly, people are dying without an explanation.

What’s wonderful about The Guest is that David is not someone we can trust. But we root for him nonetheless. The way he talks, walks, and looks puts you into a trance — and the movie’s music will too. Released in Love and Rocket’s debut album in 1985, “Haunted When the Minutes Drag” is almost hypnotic. So. Perfect.

David initially seems to want to help the family he’s staying with. He befriends Luke, the youngest son, and also has a bit of a spark with Anna, the oldest daughter. In a scene where David tries to help Luke out, “Hourglass” by S U R V I V E plays. The synthy song, which holds the audience’s attention with a catchy beat, ultimately hypnotizes the audience and makes David’s actions seem a little less horrendous.

Classic components of 80s movies are dumb parents and smart kids. The Guest plays on this by really putting Anna and Luke in positions of responsibility. “Anthonio (Berlin Breakdown Version)” highlights Anna and Luke’s intelligence, and as it plays, the characters kick ass.

The scene when “Because I Love You (The Postman song)” plays might be my favorite scene. I won’t spoil anything, but one of my favorite aspects of The Guest is its ability to play with dark humor and irony. This song, by Stevie B, artfully ups the tension as David continues to spiral downwards.

Every song in this film has a mesmerizing beat and “Sacrifice” by Front 242 is no exception. Scary, dreamlike, and synthy, this song almost like the thesis of The Guest.

All in all, The Guest rules and I promise that in like 15 years, it will be a cult classic and you can all thank me for suggesting it. Seriously though, the film’s soundtrack is not simply background music that sounds nice. It is a soundtrack that aids the meaning of the film and creates an atmosphere of anxiety and fear, just like the atmosphere surrounding David.