Matt Adcock at the cinema: Guest appearance by Downton Abbey star

Adam Wingard reanimates the spirit of the ’80s with slick action/horror thriller The Guest, writes Matt Adcock.

Dan Stevens in The Guest
Dan Stevens in The Guest

It sees impossibly sexy David (Dan Stevens of Downton Abbey fame) as a mysterious ex-war hero who calls at the family home of his friend who was killed in combat.

But this David might not be who he is claiming and before you can say “don’t trust him”pretty soon people connected to the family are dying.

An engaging mix of John Carpenter-like cheap thrills, mixed with some truly kick ass action, all held together by the superbly charismatic Stevens, who seems to really relish letting rip in a very different role.

What makes this much better than similar ‘stranger danger’ flicks is that it gleefully fuses multiple genres – revenge-’em-up, Hitchcock -style psycho thriller, Arnie-esque shooter and even Captain America-type super soldier adventure – just one with some serious trust issues.

The set pieces are excellent, offering up crunching violence, OTT titillation and some very funny moments, all set to a cool synth soundtrack. This is the sort of movie that made Blockbuster (RIP) so successful in the VHS heyday.

The rest of the cast provide admirable cannon fodder for David to chew through. Newcomers Maika Monroe and Brendan Meyer even steal some of their scenes as the children of David’s adoptive family. Lance Reddick pops up as a shadowy secret service operative towards the end on a mission to try and take David down –which sets up a nice climactic showdown.

Stevens’ perfectly groomed stubble and twinkly blue eyes put him very much in the Ryan Gosling mould of leading men.

The Guest is the perfect combination of old school and cutting edge, which delivers a wicked fun night out.Everything cracks along at an enjoyable pace and the plot builds its twist up well, even if it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense.

The writer/director team of Simon Barrett and Wingard are worth keeping a eye on, having made a superb full-on horror with You’re Next and a creepy satisfying thriller with The Guest. I’m anticipating what they might serve up next.