Now this is how you make a B-movie.
"The Guest" is absurd and stupid but fabulously entertaining, crafted with steadfast commitment to seeing that stupidity through to its conclusion.
Frequent collaborators Adam Wingard (director) and Simon Barrett (screenwriter) must have extensive knowledge of the troublesome houseguest subgenre (which includes a long line of flicks including "No Good Deed," the current box office champ), because they've heightened it practically to the point of parody.
Dan Stevens, a very long way from "Downton Abbey," plays a crazed loner named David who drops in on the Peterson family and claims to have been in the same unit as their late son, who died in Afghanistan.
Any rational person would take one look at this guy -- with his hollow eyes, his propensity for staring off into the middle distance and sudden extreme emotional shifts -- and keep him far away from their home.
Not so the Petersons, and soon enough mom Laura (Sheila Kelley) relies on the newbie for help around the house, dad Spencer (Leland Orser) downs beers with him and son Luke (Brendan Meyer) starts taking some bad advice. Only daughter Anna (Maika Monroe) has her suspicions -- though she can't help but gasp when she sees David's sexy abs.
It's all telegraphed at a fevered pitch, with Stevens smirking his way through the picture, unbridled histrionics passing for drama and hilariously over-the-top atmospheric details (the climax takes place in an elaborate haunted house maze).
There's nothing serious about "The Guest," but its deconstructs this worn out premise and offers a grand old time in the process.
Directed by Adam Wingard
Starring Dan Stevens, Sheila Kelley, Maika Monroe