I'm not trying to be a hero! I'M FIGHTING THE DRAGON!!

The Guest

tn_guestFirst I gotta give you that dreaded warning that more than the usual amount of fun in this one comes from not knowing what type of movie it’s gonna be. Not like it’s some crazy rollercoaster or mindblowing, rug-pulling shocker of a twist or anything, but it mixes up genres a little bit and I’m glad I didn’t know where it was going. So you might want to do what I did and just know it’s from the director and writer of YOU’RE NEXT and give it a shot. That worked well for me. But if you want to read my review beforehand anyway, be my guest.

Dan Stevens, who you know from playing the libidinous chandelier designer Lord Downington Abernathy on Downton Abbey, but who I know from playing the douchey soul-patched heroin trafficker in the other new movie I watched the day before this, plays a soldier called David Collins who shows up on Mrs. Peterson (Sheila Kelley)’s doorstep one day. He knew her son Caleb, who died in Afghanistan, says he promised to come check on the family for him and tell them he loved them right to the end. This brings up alot of emotions of course but she invites him in (like a fucking vampire) and he befriends her drinking, Henry-Winkler-esque husband Spencer (Leland Orser, SEVEN), her cool 20-year-old waitress daughter Anna (Maika Monroe) and her put-upon high school son Luke (Brendan Meyer, SPOOKY BUDDIES). So he ends up sticking around for a while.

There’s a certain amount of wish fulfillment involved. He finds out what their problems are and uses his particular set of skills to help. For example he finds out which jock assholes have been harassing Luke, follows them to a bar, sets up a confrontation, humiliates and brutally assaults them. This is fun to watch, but it’s messy, and the kid looks more disturbed than empowered by it. And every time we’re tempted to like this David guy there keep being these shots where nobody’s looking, the expression on his face turns cold and the retro synth score starts sounding creepy. Do you guys think composer Steve Moore knows something we don’t?

mp_guestSo it seems a little bit like THE STEPFATHER, a character-driven domestic suspense thriller. We can tell people are in danger, the daughter suspects something, starts uncovering David’s secrets, causing more danger, and she has trouble hiding her suspicions from him as well as getting people to believe her. She’s a likable heroine and, like in so many movies, has to wear an old timey uniform at the diner she works at. (Does anybody have a diner like that, where it’s all women in dresses, near them? Let me know.) But then – and this is the kinda surprising part I didn’ t want to give away – it opens up and brings in some action movie elements. It’s not just a chase through the house with a kitchen knife.

I don’t want to imply that it turns into a legit Van Damme movie or something, there are not big fiery explosions, motorcycle jumps or spin kicks, and it’s an ACR between 3 and 4. Not bad action but not attention-grabbing. I bring this up not really as a complaint, it’s not like it’s trying to be COMMANDO. But I’m just saying you and I both know it would be even better if it full-on turned into COMMANDO. Don’t expect it to.

What I really like is the grey area with this character. I figured he was evil from the beginning but also couldn’t help but like him. He’s sincere about trying to help this family, until he’s not. The most interesting relationship is with Luke, who is smart enough to figure out everything and dumb enough to want to stay friends anyway. It’s a good cast that really sells all this well. Stevens has rightfully gotten alot of hype for his performance, but let’s also give credit to the family.

That poor mom, she misses her son and enjoys having a handsome, polite young man who looks like a condensed Paul Walker helping out with everything. Filling the hole left by her son’s death and, sorry to say, her well-meaning husband’s weinery inadequacy. She doesn’t deserve to get mixed up in all this. All she did was answer the door.

A few other recognizable faces show up in small roles. Joel David Moore is in a couple scenes as a stoner friend. I like that he still does these indie movies after being in AVATAR. Ethan Embry is in there too. Note to Justified fans: I almost didn’t recognize him out of context, but Jesse Luken (who played Boyd’s long-suffering but trustworthy lieutenant Jimmy) shows up briefly just as some jock dude.

I don’t know how deeply we’re supposed to think about all this, but I believe it kind of comments on the idea of using force to get what we want, if not in real life than in our fantasies. The tough guy beating up bullies on behalf of the defenseless is a common scenario, often played for light-hearted laughs. It reminded me of that movie DRILLBIT TAYLOR, where picked-on nerds hire a washed up mercenary to defend them. David shows us how fun this is, but then he takes it too far. He seems to think he’s being a great big brother figure when he gives the kid a knife and talks about burning down his enemy’s houses. And it still doesn’t even help – at least one of the injured bullies doesn’t hesitate to toss Luke shit the very next time he sees him in class. I would’ve liked if Luke actually did stab or gut some kid in school. See how well that works out for him.

It’s also worth examining what the movie says about soldiers. On one hand, it sort of promotes the stereotype of veterans as damaged goods. When David first shows up Dad doesn’t want him to stay because he could have “the PTSD.” And it turns out his instincts aren’t entirely wrong. Somehow we need to draw a line between trying to do something about this serious mental health issue and unfairly assuming that every veteran suffers from it.

On the other hand David is like circa-FIRST BLOOD John Rambo. They turned him into this, and he can’t turn it off. Or if Anna’s snappy comment is correct, he was already a psycho and then they made him into this. Either way it wasn’t his idea, so the movie’s not entirely judging him. The question is also brought up: what if their son survived and came back wrong, wouldn’t they want to help him? They discuss it in the context of PTSD, but later we’re told that he was part of the same experiments as David. He could’ve come back and done shit like this, who knows. So can they have some sympathy for him?

I think David works as a symbol for the military in general: highly skilled and dedicated to a mission, just be real sure about that mission. A military solution is not always a good solution, and you are subject to mission creep, and to expanding hostilities. David keeps having to kill more and more loose threads. We admire and take advantage of what he’s able to accomplish, so what culpability do we have when he gets out of line?

Something to think about I guess, if you like thinking about things. I think about different things alot. For example I wonder if they ever considered selling this to WWE Films to use as a THE MARINE sequel?

Like YOU’RE NEXT, THE MARINE 4: THE GUEST is not a new type of wheel or anything, but it’s a good cast really selling a fresh and enjoyable mix of horror and action influences. I like it.

VERN has been reviewing movies since 1999 and is the author of the books SEAGALOGY: A STUDY OF THE ASS-KICKING FILMS OF STEVEN SEAGAL, YIPPEE KI-YAY MOVIEGOER!: WRITINGS ON BRUCE WILLIS, BADASS CINEMA AND OTHER IMPORTANT TOPICS and NIKETOWN: A NOVEL. His horror-action novel WORM ON A HOOK will arrive later this year.

This entry was posted on Tuesday, September 23rd, 2014 at 11:49 am and is filed under Reviews, Thriller. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

69 Responses to “The Guest”

  1. I really liked this one. It mostly comes down to Stevens performance. I know he’s getting a lot of buzz, but I can’t help but add to it. I haven’t watched him in anything else, so I had no preconceived notions about him. He transitioned from charming to terrifying so smoothly it blew me away. I absolutely loved the scene where (SPOILER) he was trying to charm Anna and when he saw she wasn’t buying it his eyes just went completely dead and he switched to threatening only to switch back to what seemed like honest to God joy when he saw the mix she made for him.

    He was one of those guys you’re supposed to be afraid of and yet you can’t help but root for. I could totally understand why (SPOILER) the boy would know what he was like and yet still want to be his friend. It makes no fucking sense to do so, but you can’t help yourself. It’s interesting, though, because half (okay, maybe more than half) of his appeal to me as the viewer is sex appeal, but they didn’t play it that way with the boy. It was just straight (no pun intended) up asexual charm between them. When the boy was going along with him I was thinking in my head, “That’s crazy!” But then when I put myself in the position I thought, “Okay, maybe, I could see it happening.”

  2. This movie rules. Like a more light-hearted less self-serious version of Drive. The action when it happens is great, the performances are all on point (especially the kids, who you’d expect to be a weak-link in a movie like this), it’s funny throughout, and the music is consistently badass.

  3. This flick is actually screened tonight at Fantastisk Film Festival in Lund, which isn´t terribly far from where I live. I probably won´t see it, but at least I´m not gonna whine about why it´s not a wide theatrical release over here.

  4. I completely missed this review. Did one myself in the forums as well, so I won’t post too much here except to say: this is a really good movie and any fans of Wingard or character-driven suspense films with an action bent (so a whole bunch of genres really) should see it. I have nitpicks but they don’t take away from what works in the movie (which is most of it).

    My brief review of it (it’s mostly-spoiler free, and the bits that do refer to the ending I’ve used “Spoiler” tags for so you can’t see ’em without clicking specifically on ’em) :

    http://www.outlawvern.com/forum/the-films-of-cinema/adam-wingards-the-guest-is-very-good-indeed/

    For those of you who aren’t interested / foolish enough to click on my links, I will reiterate my praise for Maika Monroe here. I’ve seen her described as a “scream queen”, which may be setting her up for a career in fourth-rate “remakes” of classic horror movies where all of the characters we used to love are replaced by totally unlikeable stereotypes and the cinematography makes the film look as though someone smeared the camera with vaseline. (Because what the world really needs is another “Texas Chainsaw Massacre” remake.) I really, really hope that she gets better roles than this, because – even more than Stevens – for me she was the standout in this movie.

  5. I liked Monroe, as well. She looks like Brittany Murphy and sounds like Kat Dennings, which is neither here nor there, but something I noticed. I didn’t like her as much as Sharni Vinson, though. I think she did great with what she was given, but I was hoping for a little more Last Girl Badassness. Wingard seems to have focused more on the Guest and less on the Girl, which is okay because I liked the finished project. I just went in with higher hopes in the Last Girl area based on what he did in YOU’RE NEXT.

    Vern, I’m surprised you didn’t mention Chase Williamson from JOHN DIES AT THE END in your recap of supporting players. He was the dumbass druggie boyfriend. It was nice seeing him, but a little sad he’s gone from star of the movie to barely in a couple short scenes.

  6. Maggie – Sharni Vinson was great in a leading role, true. But I felt Monroe took a supporting role and made it more memorable than it would otherwise have been. It says a lot that I remember more “moments” of Monroe’s performance than I do Stevens’ (and I really liked Stevens also).

  7. I also thought Stevens was the reincarnation of Paul Walker in this. Thanks for agreeing!

  8. It finally opened here in Houston this weekend and I am all too glad for it after missing a chance to see it weeks ago in Hollywood. Very good work all around, I even stopped trying to judge Dan Stevens’ “American” accent and just went with it(he did well either way). I also found myself chuckling every time someone leaves a scene and the score kicks in while the camera pushes in on Stevens’ silent, vaguely menacing face. We all know something is very wrong with “David”, the only mystery is the exact nature of it.

  9. Am I the only one that laughed out loud at the final line?

  10. Just caught this one and liked it a whole lot, maybe even loved it. I think it’s a very good film that sort of danced upon the precipice of being a GREAT film. I don’t want to be a dick but I think that Stevens was kinda outmatched by Monroe. His performance is a hoot but he doesn’t bring the pathos that she does, I would have loved to have been able to get more involved in them having this sort of unrequited romance thwarted by him succumbing to his programming.

    But I guess the concept has so many possibilities and potentials for just metastasizing into a different film, I mean there’s elements of The Bourne Identity and all sorts of shit and it was wise of Wingard/Barrett to keep it archetypal. I loved song playing during the climax, what an iconic moment!

  11. My bad, it was supposed to say “I loved THIS song playing” and the link was just the “THIS”, I suck at writing code

  12. I really enjoyed this film. I loved how it uses your cinematic expectations against you to to create a shifting tone that doesn’t let the viewer ever get a firm feeling exactly where the film is headed and it is a clever mash up of genres.

    SPOILERS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    I like that it is essentially a horror film that tells the story of an evil Jason Bourne that is every bit the menacing and unstoppable monster that Jason Vorhees or Micheal Myers is.

  13. These Adam Wingard films make me feel like a crotchety old “get off my lawn” guy. I mean, I GET them, it’s not a question of that, but I really wish I could love them as much as everyone else on the internet. Part of me wishes I could see this and You’re Next before the hype, but I still don’t think it would make either one into a better film.

    *SPOILERS* I guess my main problem with The Guest is 3/4 of the movie is a long slow-burn to a reveal that never really happens. I mean, we do get a “twist” of sorts straight out of Bourne or Universal Soldier, but it’s the exact twist we all thought it was, and it seems half-baked and underwritten instead of mysterious. I don’t mind not knowing who David really was (the director has apparently hinted that he was part cyborg(!) which I think is kind of awesome), but I do mind not knowing what the hell his goal was. Why did he go through all the trouble to solve the problems of each individual person in the family only to kill them? I get it’s to protect his cover but he didn’t seem so concerned when he went to a party and made a spectacle of himself in bars and the principal’s office, etc…

    So obviously there’s Terminator/Unisol influences throughout (as well as First Blood, Halloween, Cape Fear, Stoker, and the entire knife bit is lifted verbatim from Face/Off) Someone described it as The Terminator w/ Stevens playing The Terminator AND Reese. That sounds intriguing but it’s not on the screen (except for the part where he inexplicably leaves a loaded gun on the ground for no reason other than the heroine to pick it up). Does he have a split personality? Did he want them to kill him? There’s obvious vampire metaphors abound (his vampiric appearance, his needing to be “invited” in, his seduction of the heroine, his stake-through-the-heart demise in front of a cross). But what does any of it mean? Also, tons of people seem to think Stevens WAS the deceased brother, which would be an OK twist, but again, there’s nothing in the actual movie to back it up (or contradict it). It’s the wrong kind of ambiguity to me.

    Speaking of which, what’s up with that ending? It’s the same thing as You’re Next where it ends on a cliffhanger but not a particularly good one. I mean, the film should have ended about 30 seconds before or a few minutes later. Anyways, I don’t want to sound too hard on it, I actually thought it was well-shot, well-acted (it’s a star-making turn for Stevens even though I kept getting distracted by how much Monroe looks like Dakota Fanning and how much she sounds like Kat Dennings). The action sequences are great. I just wish the rest of the movie wasn’t so frustrating.

  14. Did you miss the scene where the government operative describes David’s programming? (This is not sarcastic. I miss scenes all the time when viewing movies at home. Goddamn smartphones.) There’s a line where he specifically says “I don’t think he could stop himself now if he tried.” I believe David’s motives were sincere. He did make a promise to his friend to look after the friend’s family, and he did his best to fulfill that promise while also serving his own needs, which were to secure a place to hide out and a cache of weapons. The problem is that he’s been programmed to eliminate all loose ends, so he sort of runs on rails as he kills the family while what remains of his inner self does its level best to help the family survive by giving them the weapons they need and engaging them in a lengthy cat-and-mouse chase that is diametrically opposed to his usual modus operandi of walking right up to people and taking them the fuck out. He can’t just choose to spare the brother and sister (it would be like a shark choosing not to go into a feeding frenzy when there’s blood in the water) but he can choose to find loopholes around his programming. And he would have gotten away with it, too, if the sister had just kept her damn mouth shut at the end and let David’s programming believe that his cover was intact.

    What I thought was most interesting about the movie was that David would have been a hero in any other movie. It’s a standard movie fantasy that one morally committed man of violence (especially if that man is movie-star handsome) can solve all the world’s problems. But in reality, that kind of violence just poisons everything around it. Like, if you really knew a Seagal character in real life, that motherfucker would be horrifying. The film plays with the “loner hero with a shady past” archetype in a similar way to HIGH PLAINS DRIFTER.

  15. *SPOILER* Majestyk – yeah maybe I need to watch it again since at first glance David’s attempts at helping his victims came across less as intentional and more as shoddy/random writing (like if he left the loaded gun down for her, why was he surprised for some reason when it was missing?) So what you’re saying is it’s kind of like Robocop’s Directives, where helping the family was one of them, but Self-Preservation is the most important one that overrides all the others? But just like Robocop, he found a clever way to go around it and spare the kids? I like that idea alot but wish it came through clearer on screen (or wish I was smarter and could pick it up)

    Speaking of which, I like how some people online are pointing to the inexplicable head-on car crash as proof he’s an android (it does totally seems like something a Terminator, not a Bourne-type or even Captain America-type guy would do). I mean, it’s an out-there theory but when coupled with the superhuman strength, the fact that he never gets drunk, says he never sleeps, can drink a whole glass of hot sauce, and of course gives the Terminator 2-style thumbs up during his death, I kinda like it.

    Devin Faraci had a pretty good interpretation of it similar to Vern’s – that David was the literal embodiment of the US military, strutting into the middle east with good intentions to play hero and fix everything through force (beating up bullies, killing the dad’s boss maybe), but ends up mucking everything up. (Notice beating up the bullies in the bar didn’t stop the kid from getting picked on more – in fact it put him in another situation he needed David’s help to get out of). This is a pretty strong theory too that I like, but yeah, like Vern i do think it kind of unfairly paints veterans as damaged goods (especially since the villains in You’re Next were also crazy vets).

  16. *SPOILERS* Majestyk, when you say it would’ve worked if the sister kept her mouth shut, are you talking about the very end where she sees him dressed as a fireman, leaving? Because I thought it ended right there and you don’t know if she did say anything or realized it was in her best interest to let sleeping dogs lie. Did I miss something? Or are you saying you believe that she will say something after the camera turned off?

  17. SPOILERS — Mr. M is right, David has essentially been Clockwork Orange’d. I think he shows up at their house with genuinely good intentions, and I believe him when he claims even at the end he knew the brother and “he would understand what I have to do.” He’s so charming and helpful because he genuinely wants to help them, and because he has no reason to think they’ll suspect anything and blow his cover. But when they do, he literally has no choice in the matter; he’s pre-programmed to kill everyone and escape, there’s nothing he can do about it but try and give them a fighting chance against him.

    I absolutely agree there’s a subtext here about the US military, but I don’t think it’s about veterans or individuals, it’s about the whole US war machine. I think the “guest” is the US at large, imposing itself on others with good intentions, but with internal mechanisms in place which inevitably result in disaster. There’s an inevitability here which rings real true for this metaphor; there’s really only one way this could turn out, but no one realizes that going into it, mostly because maybe they don’t want to realize it. The Guest wants to be able to play the good guy for awhile, the family wants the things he can do for them that they can’t or won’t. It should be obvious to everyone immediately that this is a bad idea, but they talk themselves out of it.

  18. Maggie: I meant the very end when they make eye contact. But now that you mention it, everyone would be a whole lot happier if she’d just stayed out of it entirely. So I guess her good intentions backfired too.

  19. *SPOILER* I like the idea that the very end shot was her accidentally unleashing the beast again; it actually makes better sense as a jokey cliffhanger that way. But from what we see on screen, why in the world WOULD she let sleeping dogs lie? For all we know David is trying to get away just long enough to attack them later/finish the job, probably in the sequel. (Knowing Wingard, The Guest II will take place entirely in a hospital immediately after The Guest I)

  20. ::SPOILERS::
    Just caught this one. I think at the end, he would, unless called attention to, just walk off dressed as the fireman because he had created this loophole in his “programming” where he would be thought dead and free to move on WITHOUT having to kill the kids. Not sure whether David and Anna locking eyes would completely ruin this plan of his though. Perhaps he wouldn’t be able to help coming after them again if he feels his escape is threatened. If she hadn’t noticed him at all, there would be no need for him to attack them later.

    The concept of him intentionally helping them have a fighting chance against him is very interesting and I like it a lot. I didn’t think about it while watching, but I did think it was strange when he carefully placed Lance Reddick’s handgun on the ground next to him instead of using it to kill the kids. And when he saw later that it had been taken, I don’t remember him looking shocked, but almost subtly pleased. Not sure, I’d have to watch again, but that’s what I remember.

    All in all, really liked this one. Coming from someone who has actually seen Downton Abbey (uhh…my girlfriend made me?), it’s clear how great of a performance this is from him. Like you’ve all said tho, the entire cast is great. A lot better than you’d typically get in a “B-horror movie”, which this really elevates itself above.

    Interesting call about the US Military allegory as well; gotta catch this again soon.

  21. I finally saw this and I loved it. The only complaint I have is the elite team guys brought in to stop David were just terrible at their jobs. I don’t think the writer or director consulted with any Navy Seals or anything because none of those guys rang true.

    They also mention in the commentary how influenced they were from John Woo. Perhaps, to cover up for the fact they have no idea how Navy Seals or whatever elite task force they are actually act, should have just went all John Woo crazy and had David go on double fisted John Woo on these terrible army dudes.

  22. Dan Stevens acted brilliantly in The Guest. It was an action packed thriller movie. The Jacket he wore encouraged him to play his role more interestingly. For more features about the jacket, visit my blog.

  23. Finally just watched this (Netflix, yo). Parapa is on point with the comparison to Drive in terms of the 80s throwback vibe of the synth keyboardy emo score, the lithe, mysterious, laconic, oddly vacant badass. Jason Bourne meets the Driver meets Michael Myers. This Maika Monroe has got game, too. Youthful, pure, world-weary, precocious. Not sure how much range she has, but in this role (which feels like pretty much the same role as It Follows), she brings it. This film will have a long shelf-life. A good ‘un.

  24. Finally just watched this (Netflix, yo). Parapa is on point with the comparison to Drive in terms of the 80s throwback vibe of the synth keyboardy emo score, the lithe, mysterious, laconic, oddly vacant badass. Jason Bourne meets the Driver meets Michael Myers. This Maika Monroe has got game, too. Youthful, pure, world-weary, precocious. Not sure how much range she has, but in this role (which feels like pretty much the same role as It Follows), she brings it. This film will have a long shelf-life. A good ‘un.

  25. Skani— Maika Monroe is about to become the poster girl for alien invasion movies. In June she can be seen in INDEPENDENCE DAY: RESURGENCE as (former) President Whitmore’s all growed up daughter Patricia. She also appears in THE 5TH WAVE (which opens on Friday), and strangely she hasn’t shown up in the trailer or any of the TV spots. Maybe it’s merely a supporting role, as Columbia Pictures seems bound and determined to pimp this movie as a Chloe Grace Moretz action heroine shebang. Go figure.

    I’ve seen THE GUEST twice, and loved it. Pretty damn solid for such a low budget movie. Monroe’s terrific in it and Dan Stevens is a revelation.

  26. Totes, Larry. Yes, Dan Stevens kicks ass in this. He’s pretty incredible. Despite the similarities to Drive or a Bourne film and any number of other vaguely reminiscent badass characters (the UniSols), he completely makes this role his own and manages to transcend the standard beats of a character like this. Yeah, I haven’t yet consumed the kool aid on Chloe Moretz.

  27. The sight of a disheveled, looking-like-he-just-woke-from-a-4-day-bender Bill Pullman speechifying to the human race in that ID4 2 trailer might just be enough to get me in. I swear that guy needs to be in more movies, exactly as he seems to be at this stage in his career – perpetually pissed off and with one eye open, hurling insults for being inconvenienced by anyone, at any time, for anything. See AMERICAN ULTRA for a recent example.

  28. I saw this at a fresher screening a week or so before it came out. I didn’t know anything about it other than the title and that I more or less enjoyed the other Winguard\Barrett projects I had seen (You’re Next, VHS 1 & 2).

    Anyway, I ended up LOVING it! Easily one of my favorites of that year, maybe the decade thus far! And, agreeing with Vern’s first paragraph… maybe not knowing what I was in for had a lot to do with it.

    I walked out thinking I had seen some awesome hybrid between John Carpenter, Captain America and a heartfelt drama. I was buzzing over it for a couple days. I had a passing interest in Winguard..and now I will see everything he has to offer.

    Cool Halloween 3 nod in the art design gives it bonus points as well!

  29. Ugh.

    Comic-Con screening reveals Adam Wingard’s The Woods is actually a secret Blair Witch sequel

    The original The Blair Witch Project was a triumph of marketing as much as anything else. So consider it a tribute that The Guest director Adam Wingard pulled off a legitimately great piece of misdirection tonight, when a Comic-Con screening revealed that his previously teased backwoods monster thri

  30. Just saw BLAIR WITCH (3). First up I rewatched BLAIR WITCH PROJECT right before going out and seeing the new one and I feel the original still holds up. BLAIR WITCH (3) is pretty much THE FORCE AWAKENS of horror movies as it is almost a remake of the original. That said I can now kind of relate to the people who keep telling me the perfectly okay THE FORCE AWAKENS is great because it refused to do anything new. Not that BLAIR WICTH (3) is great but I felt it was a pretty solid movie, it did what I wanted it to do at least. It tries to recreate that homemade feel (but ‘modern’) and fails, you are aware this is a ‘real’ movie the whole way through. The only real world-building new revelations this one adds is (SPOILER I GUESS BEWARE BEWARE I GUESS) time moves differently in these woods and as inferred in the original, geography doesn’t mean shit either. This one makes the scares bigger as to be expected but the biggest sin this one does is give us a few glimpses of our title character. In my opinion/preference we should never see what her, even if it is just quick glimpses.

    So yeah it doesn’t really do anything new, it’s too married to the structure of the original, but I still enjoyed it. This makes me a huge hypocrite since I’m one of the overly-critical of THE FORCE AWAKENS for it’s stubborn refusal to do anything new. But THE FORCE AWAKENS doesn’t have a scene where a character snaps a stick in-half which causes another character to snap-in-half. Therefore BLAR WITCH (3) is a much better movie in my opinion.

  31. Wait, BW3 is by the dude who made You’re Next and The Guest? And he’s also finishing production on Death Note?!

    Looks like I’m going to the movies tomorrow

  32. renfield, remember, sometimes dudes who make really good movies also can make festering piles of shit…like Blair Witch 3.

    Also, I like Wingard a lot for You’re Next and The Guest but his comment how he’s going to make Death Note even more violent and gorier just seems really…..weird. I don’t know about this guy. I feel like he might have peaked.

  33. The reaction to BLAIR WICTH 3 is really interesting to me. I thought between JURASSIC WORLD and FORCE AWAKENS that we all agreed as a society that revival sequels that only remake the original were great. I don’t know, it just worked for me and I usually don’t care for these types of sequels and really dislike almost all found footage movies.

    I can’t be upset about his DEATH NOTE comments though. I didn’t care for the comic or cartoon so his declaration of adding more violence and gore sounds okay to me. Still hope it pulls through for the fans though.

  34. I thought DEATH NOTE was ok, but also overrated, I don’t really understand why they feel the need to make an adaption ten years after the franchise was popular, so I’m ambivalent to whatever changes they make.

  35. Griff — not that I need to tell you this, but they already made a live-action adaptation ten years ago. It’s not, you know, good or anything, but I guess it’s kinda template for how this could work, story-wise (i.e., the first movie is a totally direct adaptation of the first five episodes, the second is a loose adaptation of the other, you know, 30 episodes).

    As far as Wingard goes, I’ve been following him since POP SKULL, which was one of the most unwatchable indie horror movies I’ve ever made it through. Since then, each subsequent movie has been better than the previous one, until he finally made it to tolerability with the entertaining THE GUEST and the actually fun YOU’RE NEXT. I was legit excited for his next effort til I heard it was a BLAIR WITCH remake, which is exactly the level of simmering disappointment Ive remained at reading the reviews. At least he’s not attached to any Fantastic Four reimaginings.

  36. Yeah, I’m aware, they were also made at the height of the franchise’s popularity.

    It’s funny how in the rare instances America adapts anime/manga they always due so long after the series peak popularity (see also: the DRAGON BALL movie), I guess in another ten years we can expect an ATTACK ON TITAN adaption?

  37. So, Adam Wingard is making an anime? What a waste.

  38. Live action version of Anime for Netflix.

  39. Griff

    If they think they have a good take on the story/idea, I don’t think it matters how ‘old’ the thing is. I mean I know where you’re coming from and the answer is the rights have been being bounced around around Hollywood since it was popular. This seems to happen every time Hollywood buys an anime/manga property: they here it is ‘cool with the kids’ and then learn that it’s really weird and not mainstream and they decide to sit on it (if this were the 90s they would just change everything fans liked about it. I remember not too long ago Gus Van Sant was attached to adapt DEATH NOTE and certain nerds were crying that Hollywood creativity is dead (because it was not nerd-shit they were into). That’s what happened with DRAGON BALL, Fox bought the rights and learned it was really weird and sat on it until their option was about to expire. Warner Bros. bought the rights to not-very-good and boring BLEACH so maybe we’ll see that one in five-to-eight years. I know someone has NINJA SCROLL (which does not hold up sadly) and another studio just bought TIGER & BUNNY (which is only good for like two episodes before becoming serious and terrible) so we can look forward to those in ten years as well. If they even get made, back in the ’90s someone owned BUBBLEGUM CRISIS and it never left development hell and ADV was never able to get the funds to make their EVANGELION movie that would have been terrible probably.

    Mr. S

    I was thinking of watching Wingard’s other non-YOU’RE NEXT and THE GUEST and I think you may have talked me out of that. I really loved YOU’RE NEXT and it was actually my favorite movie that year. You also helped me push off watching the live action DEATH NOTE movies some more, one of my favorite directors (Heisei GAMERA and GMK’s Shûsuke Kaneko) directed it but I avoided that one because I do not care for DEATH NOTE.

    Shoot

    WELL ACTUALLY Shoot, anime is really adult and mature and thought-provoking unlike the baby-shit America puts out!

    The Adventures of Butthurt Anime Fan

    He's a super Saiyan pain in the ass. See more http://www.collegehumor.com LIKE us on: http://www.facebook.com/collegehumor FOLLOW us on: http://www.twitter.c...

  40. geoffreyjar- that was genuinely funny.

    “he´s making anime an inhospitable place for newcomers!”

  41. Herschell Gordon Lewis has passed. I´ve only seen BLOOD FEAST once, but it was probably the earliest film with that amount of gore in it that I had seen at that point.

  42. Oh man. That hurts. I often took great pleasure in knowing that there was still someone out there with intelligence, humor, and a pragmatic overview of things who’d been around for the very birth of the modern exploitation movie, and that man was Mr. Lewis. In a world where so much of the film conversation is dominated by people with no firsthand knowledge (myself included) we just lost one of our last frontlines veterans.

  43. geoffreyjar – What do you mean NINJA SCROLL doesn’t hold up? I hadn’t actually seen it until 2014, so this isn’t nostalgia talking, but it kicks ass, I love those action OVAs of the 80’s and 90’s.

    And speaking of which I also saw both the VAMPIRE HUNTER D features for the first time not long ago, the first of which was an 80’s OVA and the second was a theatrical release from the director of NINJA SCROLL and both completely blew me away.

    I think that there’s anime out there that any action fan can appreciate, even if you hate the modern incarnation of anime there’s still plenty of stuff from the 80’s and 90’s, like those aforementioned ones, that are just plain rad.

  44. I liked Blair Witch 3 well enough. It was too close to the original for the first act, and then goes Bigger, Louder More! for the rest. Some stuff genuinely comes out of left field (the stick breaking scene) and an overall weirdness wins it over for me. Nowhere’s near as good as THE GUEST, but not bad.

    And yeah, RIP HG Lewis. Loved his truly cheap, truly weird movies!

  45. I liked Blair Witch 3 well enough. It was too close to the original for the first act, and then goes Bigger, Louder More! for the rest. Some stuff genuinely comes out of left field (the stick breaking scene) and an overall weirdness wins it over for me. Nowhere’s near as good as THE GUEST, but not bad.

    And yeah, RIP HG Lewis. Loved his truly cheap, truly weird movies!

  46. Griff

    WELL ACTUALLY NINJA SCROLL was a theatrically released movie and not an OVA! I’m SO SICK of you fake tourists nerds trying to co-opt my anime!! JEEEEZ!! Anyways I rewatched when the Blu-ray came out and didn’t love it nearly as much as I did when I was younger, saw it the day it came out on VHS. I’m making it sound like I’m way more disappointed in my rewatch than I was. I remember it being the coolest thing when I first saw it and now it’s a bunch of cool sequences with a interludes featuring characters I don’t like.

    Really enjoy the original VAMPIRE HUNTER D (was an OVA but like many OVAs back in the 80s it had a brief theatrical release to promote it), it was a favorite of mine back in the day, hard to mess up SHANE but with vampires. As much as I enjoy that one though I absolutely adore VAMPIRE HUNTER D: BLOODLUST (theatrical but so limited (even in Japan) it may as well been a DTV OVA). A still current favorite of mine. You ever read any of the novels they are based on? Dark Horse released all of them, they have a weird issue of not being able to decide whether they want to be more horror or sci-fi (the sci-fi elements are way more prominent in the novels). They are trying to make a TV show or something right now but they don’t seem to have any plan other than getting the money to make it so I can’t be excited for it.

    -just to be clear, I’m not making fun you Griff, I’m making fun of the stereotypical obnoxious anime fans who make sure I never really admit out loud that I used to watch it and still have a bit of a passing interest in it.

    Tigger: Thank you for making me feel like I’m not alone BLAIR WITCH-wise.

  47. I could have swore NINJA SCROLL was an OVA, if it wasn’t why is it somewhat on the short side? My only complaint about it is the fact that it could be a little longer to let some of the action scenes breath a bit.

    I haven’t read the VAMPIRE HUNTER D novels but now I’m certainly interested knowing that they’ve been released in English.

    I love the funky 80’s animation of the original VAMPIRE HUNTER D (that scene where D goes through the tunnel filled with all those horrible mutants scared the shit out of me) but there’s no denying the hyper detailed animation of VAMPIRE HUNTER D: BLOODLUST is absolutely jaw dropping, I mean holy fuck is that a cool looking movie.

    That’s a shame if it didn’t get a wider theatrical release, it should have.

  48. Death Note’s concept should be a fertile playground for any enthusiastic storyteller. It gets spun every which way to complete exhaustion in the original book/series, but I would put it in the “worthy of any/all remakes and reimaginings” category along with, say, The Prisoner. (Remember how cool LOST was at first?).

    I didn’t make it to BW3 this weekend, but I’m determined to approach it with an open mind when I do see it.

  49. i’ve been pretty vocal about my disdain for all of the Wingard/Barnett joints that have dropped so far but i really hope that people who were singing their praises don’t go all turncoat now that DEATH NOTE seems to be picking up as many rancid notices as BLAIR WITCH did. i’ve fucking hated all of Wingard’s films (YOU’RE NEXT and THE GUEST included) but boy does it ever shit me when the fresh blood of failure leads to folks retroactively discrediting the work of filmatists they used to champion based on the poor reception of their latest offerings.

    not talking about anyone on this sight of course but i can feel it in my waters that the tide for these guys is gonna turn real fucking ugly real fucking fast and the “actually, in hindsight, YOU’RE NEXT and THE GUEST etc were kind of overrated/cancerous horrible piles of toxic garbage” claims are gonna be fucking everywhere. it’s just such an ongoing, miserable aspect of online film appreciation culture and another reason why i literally only ever engage with this sight’s comments sections and no others.

    not saying that additional inclusions in a filmmaker’s catalogue can’t be used to reassess their previous shit in an intelligent and thoughtful way, just that if this shit goes down i seriously doubt that the majority voice will be in any way engaging with it on that level. i’m really sorry for the cynicism. i don’t feel good about it.

  50. I didn’t bother to watch BLAIR WITCH, and I fast-forwarded through YOU’RE NEXT, but I really, really enjoyed THE GUEST, and I stand by that enjoyment. I try to keep it on a movie-to-movie basis vs. global judgments about a filmography.

  51. Has any live action adaptation of an anime worked out?

    I’m not a big horror guy, so I haven’t watched Blair Witch or You’re Next, but The Guest is awesome and I will hate to see it retroactively slandered.

  52. I’m a big of YOU’RE NEXT, possibly my favorite from that year. Also really like THE GUEST. I feel like I’m the only person who saw and/or liked BLAIR WITCH.

    The only anime adaptation I can think of that I liked and can really go to bat for was Hideaki Anno’s CUTIE HONEY. I enjoyed the adaptation of CROMARTIE HIGH SCHOOL but I know other guys who didn’t like it at all. I really enjoyed the live action TV show versions of NODAME CANTABILE. Um.. I didn’t hate GHOST IN THE SHELL? Uh.. the unofficial Taiwan DRAGON BALL movie is pretty funny in it’s cheapness. Yeah all the others I’ve seen range from okay to horrible.*

    *Protip: I can verify the Japanese dub of DRAGONBALL: EVOLUTION doesn’t make it any better. It has kept me from dropping money on the Japanese DVD of the live action FIST OF THE NORTH STAR movie where the cast of the cartoon dubbed the actors.

  53. What makes Death Note bad? The only thing I’ve seen thus far was people complaining that it’s white people and white people will never really understand what makes Death Note, Death Note or something.

  54. Oh and You’re Next and The Guest are movies I think are awesome but their found footage stuff is crap.

  55. Stern: I have not watched the new DEATH NOTE but from what I’m reading that’s pretty much it. It’s not (another) Japanese live-action adaptation so it’s racist-bile.

    I tried reading the comic, watching the cartoon, and even the live action movies and I came to the conclusion that DEATH NOTE just isn’t for me. So unless they are doing a ground-up bastardization I’m probably not going to dig their take either.

  56. I don’t know much about the whole thing other than the clips I saw looked alright.

    Did you guys know that India remade When Harry Met Sally? Where is the outrage? lol

  57. The Indian remake of My Best Friend’s Wedding is three hours long, and epic.

  58. I saw BLAIR WITCH over the last weekend. It was a pretty easy sit (I watched it with friends, might have been a bit duller if I was going solo), but it’s definitely a waste of such a promising up and coming writer/director team and the iconic name it revives (regardless of how I, and many others, personally feel about the original).

  59. According ti IMDB, Wingard is slated to direct a remake of I SAW THE DEVIL and GODZILLA VS KONG. This means that the director that went from creating original, and inventive genre movies have quickly become the next cannon fodder dircteor of franchise properties or remakes with BLAIR WITCH and DEATH NOTE already in his belt. Too bad, I was surprised with his one-two punch of YOU´RE NEXT and THE GUEST. It may not mean anything really. I have yet to see BLAIR WITCH and DEATH NOTE but they seem so less interesting as just new material that surprises you.

    I am always interested in seeing GODZILLA VS KONG regardless of director, so it seem like a waste. But who knows?

  60. BLAIR WITCH seemed like the work of dudes who would’ve been much more comfortable reimaginequeling EVIL DEAD 2 than the film whose title they swiped/uncompromisingly reinvented as visionaries by dropping three syllables.

    American Godzilla flicks: who cares?

  61. If it is as enjoyable as SKULL ISLAND, I care.

  62. Not sure if that was your intention, zero, but your comment just put BLAIR WITCH on top of my watchlist.

  63. Wingard’s my major disappointment of the decade. He made two original movies that were right up my alley and then immediately got sucked into the franchise machine. I’m sure he’s having a great time reaping the benefits of failing upward but there are dozens of directors who could have taken those assignments. I wanted to see the movies only he could make.

  64. Mr. M — and that’s especially galling because he spent years working his way up to being a serviceable genre director, starting with the basically unwatchable POP SKULL and the increasingly less unwatchable segments in VHS and ABCs of DEATH before graduating to watchable with A HORRIBLE WAY TO DIE and then finally earning a “hey, I actually enjoy this!” with YOU’RE NEXT, and a promising “This might even be a little bit great!” with THE GUEST, only to throw it all away immediately the second someone offered him a paycheck.

  65. I’m sure there’s very little money in spending years developing original projects that are well received but don’t set the world on fire. I don’t know what his situation is, he might have kids or some shit, but I’d imagine it would be a major relief to know that you have some major paychecks lined up for work that doesn’t rest entirely on your shoulders. As a human with material needs, I sympathize. As a movie fan, though, it’s a bummer.

  66. Hopefully he gets better at filming action because the one major action scene in The Guest was pretty lame and I loved the movie.

  67. I thought the action scene filled its purpose and it had the beats down. My problem with it was that II wanted more of it but never got it. It would have been great if it had turn into fullblown COMMANDO. But the movie kept switching it up which in the end made me love it.

  68. Like Majestyk, I can’t begrudge Wingard paying his bills. Wingard gotta eat. Google says THE GUEST cost $5M to make, and YOU’RE NEXT cost $1M, so you can imagine how of that went to Wingard. Not much is the answer, I suspect.

    Also, I am interested to see what Wingard will do with GODZILLA VS KONG. I enjoyed Edwards’s GODZILLA, have not seen KONG: SKULL ISLAND, am psyched for Michael Dougherty GODZILLA 2, and I like to Wingard will handle this one well, too. It’s not obvious to me that the so-called MonsterVerse is as much of a creative straightjacket as the STAR WARS universe supposedly is, but maybe? I haven’t really followed that. Anyway, I think there’s some hope that Wingard will both have some freedom and do something good with it when it comes to GODZILLA VS KONG. Naive, perhaps, but let me have my dream.

    Also, I’m cautiously hopeful that these guys would continue to direct some more personal passion project, smaller-budget genre films. Kind of a one for them, one for me deal. There is also the Blumhouse model, which seems like it could work for one of these guys. Make a good film on a shoestring, (hopefully) make a ton more than you spent, then share in the profits.

    Finally, I have to believe there are other inventive, creative folks out there who will step up to fill the shoes of the Wingards and Ti Wests when/if they sell out or start sucking (or if they already have, depending on your perspective).

    I am of two minds about these franchises and universes. On the one hand, I think all of the criticisms of them as far as being profit-driven, conservative factories that are pushing out intrinsically episodic films, where the studio universe-keepers insist on curating and constraining the output to conform to the playbook and crushing dissent. They tend to play it safe, which undermines the sense of felt stakes or the capacity to be really surprising as far as the plot. On the other hand, I am personally satisfied with the results more often than not, and as I said in the TFA thread, I understand why the studios do that, so, I can’t really be too pissed off about it, either.

  69. Left out some words there, but I trust your ability to interpolate. :)

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