Omar: 3.5 out of 5

After I finished watching Nicolas Winding Refn’s Drive back when it premiered in 2011 all I wanted was a scorpion jacket, driving gloves, a toothpick, and to drive fast. Since then I’ve bought the movie on bluray and often list it as one of my favorite movies ever. Any movie that reminds me of Drive (or the equally stylish Hotline Miami) tends to instantly make me smile and pay close attention, this is part of the reason why I loved Keanu Reeves in John Wick so much. In these past four years since Drive, I finally found a movie that compares in style in Adam Wingard’s The Guest.

Let’s start with a brief description of what this movie is about. On a seemingly random and unimportant day, the Peterson family is visited by Afghanistan war veteran David (Dan Stevens). Mrs. Peterson, still mourning the death of her son Caleb, is quick to invite David in and offer him a room for the night after he explains that he was a friend of her son. The almost jarringly polite David is readily taken in by the entire family. Within the course of a few days David is picking up the younger Peterson son from school, attending parties with Anna Peterson (Maika Monroe), listening to the Mr. Peterson’s work troubles over beers, and helping Mrs. Peterson with household chores. Everything is not as it seems for the Peterson family and only the smartest Peterson, Anna, is suspicious of David’s story. Without wanting to spoil anything I’ll leave it that.

One of my favorite things about this movie was the cinematography. The style of this film is palpable as it was with the other movies I mentioned in opening this review. That scene near the end of the film at the high school gymnasium has been on my mind since the movie ended. That entire scene and the ones like it that preceded it simply exude coolness.

My absolute favorite thing about the film is the music. The soundtrack is amazing from start to finish and matches the style of the film like a pig in a blanket (yeah, I totally just made that idiom up). As a matter of fact I’m currently listening to the soundtrack loudly on my headphones as I write this. If you want a hint of what I’m talking about here, it is:

Pretty great right?! 5/5 stars for the film’s soundtrack but unfortunately this isn’t a soundtrack review.

My main gripe with the movie doesn’t have anything to do with the over-the-top action or the intentionally ridiculous acting and script. I understand that these things were consciously put into the film to contribute to the overall aura. My main complaint was with the story. The film begins intentionally slow and progresses steadily towards its final loud crescendo but it does so in a way that felt too unbalanced for me. Maybe I’m just nitpicking but I think the film could have been better balanced. To add to that, the movie had so many overly stylish moments that bordered on cheesy. I’m convinced these were also by design but I’m still marking the film down a bit for them. The major thing I didn’t like about the story was simply that it wasn’t all that special. The explanation for what happens in the second half of the movie doesn’t seem as something created for the purpose of writing a good story as much as just an excuse for characters to run wild, have shootouts, and chase each other in cars. I can’t help but return to Drive and compare the two given all the similarities and I know that’s unfair to this movie because it deserves to exist on its own but those are just my own biases. In the end a 3.5 is probably lower than many people would give this movie but the story felt too noticeably weak to me when compared to the excellent style of the film. It was still a highly enjoyable movie and I would recommend it to anyone looking for a fun and stylish movie.

But come on, compare the two and tell me you don’t see the similarities!