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Adam Wingard
Dan Stevens, Maika Monroe, Leland Orser, Sheila Kelley, Brendan Meyer, Lance Reddick
Writing Credits:
Simon Barrett

A soldier introduces himself to the Peterson family, claiming to be a friend of their son who died in action. After the young man is welcomed into their home, a series of accidental deaths seem to be connected to his presence.

Rated R

Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1
English DTS-HD MA 5.1
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 101 min.
Price: $34.98
Release Date: 1/6/2015

• Audio Commentary with Director Adam Wingard and Writer Simon Barrett
• Seven Deleted Scenes with Optional Commentary
• Q&A With Actor Dan Stevens
• Previews


Panasonic TC-P60VT60 60-Inch 1080p 600Hz 3D Smart Plasma HDTV; Sony STR-DG1200 7.1 Channel Receiver; Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player using HDMI outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Kenwood 1050SW 150-watt Subwoofer.


The Guest [Blu-Ray] (2014)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (December 28, 2014)

With 2014’s The Guest, we get a thriller with a surprisingly strong critical pedigree. Usually flicks of this sort get a mixed reception, but not this one, as The Guest earned a stunning 91 percent “fresh” rating on Rotten Tomatoes. With so many glowing endorsements, how could I resist?

After the loss of their son Caleb during the war in Afghanistan, the Peterson family – father Spencer (Leland Orser), mother Laura (Sheila Kelley) and surviving kids Luke (Brendan Meyer) and Anna (Maika Monroe) – struggle to pick up the emotional pieces. Into this setting steps David Collins (Dan Stevens), a young man who states he served with and befriended Caleb in the military. Laura invites David to stay with the family, as she believes this may help them with their healing.

Bad call. David ingratiates himself to the Peterson family, but before too long, violent activities start to occur. We follow these events and various revelations that come out about David along the way.

Now that I’ve seen The Guest, I admit I wish I’d not known about its slew of positive reviews in advance, as they set up a certain level of expectations that the film would find it hard to match. Genre flicks like this don’t usually muster such high praise. They’re more likely to end up with grades like the 10 percent accorded No Good Deed, so the 91 percent The Guest received does boost anticipation.

While I don’t think The Guest quite deserves the piles of praise it got, I do find a lot to like about it. The movie manages to play with genre expectations in a way that allows it to indulge in thriller clichés while it also toys with them. Without question, this becomes a self-aware film, one that knows you’ve seen many flicks like it, so it sets up the viewer in a mix of ways to exploit that.

Probably the most evident influence comes from 1984’s Terminator, as it connects to The Guest in quite a few ways. Most of these relate to the main character, as David becomes a slick super-soldier, but we see smaller nods as well. Is it a coincidence that Anna waits tables in a diner? Nope, and she even wears a uniform not dissimilar to the one sported by Sarah Connor.

The Guest makes these allusions in a way that seems more “clever nod” than “cheap rip-off”, and that stretches to Stevens’ lead performance as well. He gives David a certain robotic feel – think Robert Patrick in 1991’s Terminator 2 - while he still maintains enough personality to ensure we understand why he wins over the other characters. David doesn’t seem quite “right” but we can understand why he ingratiates himself with those he meets. Stevens plays the role’s charm and menace well.

My only minor complaint might relate to the story, which I think may telegraph David’s identity a little too soon. That said, we all know that we’ll eventually learn a dark secret about David anyway, so this doesn’t turn into a notable flaw. In addition, The Guest finds plenty of others ways to keep alive the mystery and the suspense, so this small issue doesn’t do anything to harm the tale.

At no point does The Guest threaten to truly revitalize the genre, but it still offers a good little thriller. It offers just enough suspense, drama and action to make it enjoyable.

The Blu-ray Grades: Picture B+/ Audio B+/ Bonus B-

The Guest appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.40:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. Everything here worked well.

Sharpness pleased, as the film usually appeared accurate and well-defined. Some interiors could be a smidgen soft, but not to a substantial degree, so the image was strong most of the time. Jagged edges and moiré effects failed to appear, and edge haloes remained absent. Print flaws also stayed away from this clean image.

One expects a teal and orange palette from a 2014 thriller, and one finds those hues in Guest. As tired as I am of those colors, I must judge what I see, not what I want to see, and the Blu-ray replicated the tones with appropriate clarity and smoothness. Blacks showed good depth, while low-light shots were fine; the movie came with plenty of dark elements and presented them in a concise manner. In the end, the image worked well.

Guest didn’t present a tremendously ambitious DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundfield, but the audio seemed to accentuate the visuals well. It mixed atmosphere with a mix of jolts and stings from the rear during more action-oriented sequences.

In the front, the track showed good stereo music and presented various elements in a logical and natural manner. The elements blended neatly and created a seamless sense of the environment. From the rear, aggressive violent components added kick to the proceedings and made the mix more immersive and involving.

Audio quality seemed positive. Dialogue consistently appeared natural and crisp, with no edginess or intelligibility issues on display. Music was clear and dynamic. The score seemed broadly reproduced and complemented the mix nicely. Effects appeared accurate and concise, with positive punch. Everything suited the film and turned this into a “B+” track.

A few extras fill out the disc, and these launch with an audio commentary from director Adam Wingard and writer Simon Barrett. Both sit together for a running, screen-specific chat about story/character/script topics, cast and performances, stunts and action, sets and locations, influences, music, effects and connected areas.

In other words, Wingard and Barrett touch on pretty much everything involved in the movie's creation. Chatty, fun and amiable, they keep the track moving at a terrific clip and fill the commentary with tons of good notes. They help make this a delightful, honest and informative piece.

Seven Deleted Scenes fill a total of 15 minutes. These tend toward minor character elements or alternate versions of existing sequences. None of them prove to be especially interesting.

We can view the deleted scenes with or without commentary from Wingard and Barrett. They tell us about the sequences and why they cut them from the final film. Wingard and Barrett continue to be frank and entertaining as they give us a nice look at the material.

A Q&A With Actor Dan Stevens goes for a mere two minutes, 32 seconds. He gets into his character and performance as well as other aspects of the shoot. Stevens throws out a couple of decent notes but doesn’t have enough time for more than superficial tidbits.

The disc opens with ads for Nightcrawler, A Walk Among the Tombstones, The Scorpion King 4: Quest for Power, Kill the Messenger and A Few Best Men. Previews also presents promos for The American, Hanna, The World’s End, The Grey, Hit & Run and Killer Elite. No trailer for The Guest appears here.

Stuck in a potentially moribund genre, The Guest offers a fairly strong thriller. It throws enough twists and turns to keep it interesting as it takes us on a good ride. The Blu-ray presents solid picture and audio along with supplements highlighted by a terrific commentary. Thriller fans should enjoy this exciting flick

Viewer Film Ratings: 4 Stars Number of Votes: 2
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