Director Adam Wingard and writer Simon Barrett could have done anything after last year's subversive slasher hit You're Next. Well, almost anything.
"Simon wrote one of the best action scenes ever," Wingard said of the high-intensity follow-up film that they ended up scrapping after making plans to shoot in South Korea. He hopes they'll salvage what he described as a 30- to 50-page car chase, but admitted that "we could have never pulled it off with the resources at the time."
Instead, the pair made The Guest, opening in limited release on Sept. 17 and wider the week after, a thriller starring Downton Abbey's Dan Stevens as "David," a soldier who turns up on the doorstep of the Peterson family, claiming to have served in the Middle East with their son Caleb, who was killed in action. David is polite, handsome, and helpful, but there's something a little off about him — about the way his face can go blank, like a glitching cyborg. There's also a sinister edge to the aid he offers each member of the family, though only the 20-year-old daughter Anna (Maika Monroe) seems to spot it.
The Guest feels like an '80s movie in a way that has nothing to do with parody — it has the aura of a forgotten blockbuster you'd rent over and over from the video store because it's so much fun. It's nostalgic without being kitsch, because, as Wingard said, "I really started appreciating cinema as a kid during the late '80s. It was important to do something that says 'this is where we come from' and to take a postmodern approach." Wingard and Barrett guided BuzzFeed News through five of the movies that influenced their latest collaboration.