Friday, October 10, 2014
The guest is a handsome and soft-spoken David (Dan Stevens) who shows up at the Peterson family's front door. He claims to be a close soldier friend of the elder son Caleb who recently died in Afghanistan. He comes to tells Caleb's mom Laura (Sheila Kelley) that Caleb loved her. Laura quickly embraces David's visit and invites David to stay, and David gratefully accepts.
David doesn't just come to comfort Laura, he swiftly gains the trust from the dad Spencer (Leland Orser), helps the younger brother Luke (Brendan Meyer) fending off bullies in high school, and charms the sister Anna (Maika Monroe) to make a music CD for him. However, a few days later, David's pleasant visit takes a dramatic turn and things spins out of control.
When the first music score bangs out the film's title, the viewer is cued that there will be violence even it might not get as bloody as in Quentin Tarantino's films. The director Adam Wingard shrewdly balances the amount of blood he spills and the level of suspense he builds. He doesn't make it a secret that his main character is not as innocent and nice as he appears to be, and the story won't be as calm as during the first half of the film. When all hell breaks loose in the second half of the film, the director seamlessly changes the film from a clever thriller to a laugh-out comedy.
It's remarkable that the film's seemingly far-fetched story is convincingly constructed and smoothly unfold. However, despite each mysterious move that David makes, the film doesn't lean to the direction in solving a complex puzzle. Instead, it's having a blast along with the viewers. It's both brilliant and hilarious when the film sets the last chapter at a Halloween maze. The familiar sound effect in a horror film becomes natural and comical, and the viewer no longer asks why David comes to the family at the first place.
Does this film stimulate any deep thought or provide any revelation about anything? Probably not. Will you have fun at the screening of this film with a group buddies? Absolutely.