Wednesday, 10 September 2014


The baffling, outrageous inconsistency of Adam Wingard's career as a director continues with The Guest, a film that is as derivative as it is inspired, as clumsily-mounted as it is expertly-handled, as pedestrian as it is inventive. What's clear is that Wingard and writer Simon Barrett (who also has an ill-advised supporting role) are keen to mine a vast array of references, employing them as homage one moment, updating them the next. Their intentions are strong, and their cinematic knowledge equally so, but the combination of eagerness and misplaced confidence with which they apply these attributes diminishes the film's independent artistic impact. Wingard is undeniably most at home when attending to the technical fundaments of thriller filmmaking, crafting sequences of bracing tension and making smart, if spare, usage of the same appreciation for spatial awareness that he demonstrated in You're Next. What he also carries over from that film, and indeed augments in The Guest, is a sly knack for black humour and basic tastelessness. In the moment, these are effective tools for Wingard, though his general incompetence through the rest of the film cheapens it - in particular an underlying sexism in many of his compositions, a trait that has blighted too much of this director's work to date. Overall, there's a pointlessness to The Guest that could surely only be deflected by faultless craftsmanship behind the camera - once again I reference You're Next, which showed just how capable of that Wingard is. But this film's silly back story, plus the hurriedness with which it is initially revealed, only to remain unfinished by the film's end, is just left to sit there and stink, and not nearly enough is done to deflect from the stench it leaves behind. The Guest is, thus, a neat summation of the combined careers of Wingard and Barrett up to the present day: bafflingly, outrageously inconsistent.