The Guest (2014, Adam Wingard)

Sometimes I hear good things about a movie but don’t watch it right away for some reason (in The Guest‘s case, because I hated the director’s previous movie), then a year goes by and I forget the reason and end up watching the movie on netflix, and damned if it isn’t really good. So I guess I like Adam Wingard now. Ti West: your move. Well-paced thriller, and once it starts building, it keeps going higher and higher towards total insanity. When Dan Stevens suspects a waitress might have information on him, he stabs her to death in the middle of her workplace then blows up the restaurant with grenades.

Oh yeah, Dan Stevens, the guy who ruined Downton Abbey to become a movie star, appearing in Julian Assange bios, Adam Sandler fantasies, Ben Stiller sequels and Liam Neeson revenge dramas, finally getting raves from this. He arrives at a family’s house, says he’s a friend of their son who died in the military, and they invite him to stay. He helps out in small ways, mostly by murdering anyone who gets in the family’s way. But the kids with their damned googles become suspicious, track down some info and finally call in the military cops led by Lt. Cedric Daniels, who destroy the house with their firepower but still prove laughably outmatched by Dan and his few pistols.

Finally Dan starts turning on the family to protect his secrets, first mom (Sheila Kelley of Matchstick Men) with a knife, then dad (Leland Orser of that Chris Lambert movie Resurrection) with a car crash, then he follows the kids to – where else? – a school haunted house (just like Lesson of Evil). Bullied youngest (Brendan Meyer of Dinosapien) is protected by It Follows star Maika Monroe (and Daniels, for a while) while fog machines and fire fighter gear obscure their assailant. And speaking of fog machines, this movie continues the recent tradition of blasting 1980’s-style synth music, to great effect.

Also starring Chase Williamson (star of John Dies at the End) as Maika’s pothead boyfriend. I’ve already spoiled You’re Next, the Wingard/Barrett/Swanberg/West/Fessenden/Sheil movie between A Horrible Way To Die and this one, in a Last Ten Minutes installment.