Sunday, October 4, 2015

The Guest (Adam Wingard, 2014)

I know this expression is a little outdated, but am I being punk'd? To go even one step further, outdated expression-wise, am I on Candid Camera? Seriously, am I? What's that? I'm not. So, what you're saying is, I just watched a movie about a disaffected D.A.F. fan who never leaves the house without making sure the tops of her stockings are showing? No, this can't be happening. Oh, and just to be clear, when say, "D.A.F.," I'm not talking about the Dutch trucking company. Uh-uh, I'm talking about Deutsch Amerkanische Freundschaft. To make matters even more insane, I could have called the character played by Maika Monroe (who, by the way, is the same age as most of my clothes) a "Front 242 fan" or a "Clan of Xymox fan." (Hey, these bands sound familiar. Which reminds me, aren't you the one who is always going on and on about Front 242 and about how cool industrial music is? And don't you have this weird fixation with the tops of stockings?) Duh! Where have you been for the last twenty-five years. These things are not just in my wheelhouse, they're freakin' foundation of my wheelhouse. In fact, take away industrial music and stocking tops, and you'll be looking at one pretty glum Yum-Yum.

The film I'm talking about, in case you haven't figured it out yet, is called The Guest. And while on the surface it might seem like your standard thriller about a handsome stranger with a dark past, underneath lurks a movie that...

Holy shit, the movie has two D.A.F. songs and two Front 242 songs! What the hell is going on here?!?

And get this, none of the Front 242 songs are "Headhunter." Yep, you heard right. "Headhunter," the uninspired go-to track of lame goth-industrial DJs the world over is not one of the two 242 songs. Oh, sure, I dug the song when it first came out (and the arty Anton Corbijn-directed music video), but I must have heard it a million times since then, and have grown to despise it.

While the producers deserve all a lot of praise for not using "Headhunter," the movie actually has a lot more going for it than a kick ass soundtrack. (Yeah, we know. It's got absolute territory up the ying yang.) Of course, it's got that going for it. What I was going to say was, it's got Maika Monroe.

Now, I have to admit, I had never heard of Maika Monroe before seeing this movie (I'm a bit behind when it comes to keeping up with the current crop of actors/celebrities). However, after seeing her as Anna Peterson, she kind of reminds me of Chloë Sevigny's cooler little sister. I know, how can anyone be cooler than Chloë Sevigny. Trust me, once you see the quality of the disaffection Maika puts out there in this film, you'll agree that she's a hundred times cooler. Besides, Maika's disaffection has a goth-EBM soundtrack.

If that wasn't enough, Maika's Anna Peterson sleeps all day in thigh-high socks, yellow and white polka dot panties and, are you sitting down? A Current 93 t-shirt. Of course, her shirt might not have been a Current 93 t-shirt... but it featured an unicursal hexagram, and that's good enough for me. Quirky fun-fact: The number 93 plays a big role in Thelema, the religious philosophy founded by Aleister Crowley.

The reason Anna is asleep during the day is because she works the late shift at a local diner. Oh my God, would you look at her waitress uniform. The way the yellow and white gingham collar (and sleeves) and the powder blue base compliment one another is to die for.

Oh, and as she's heading to off to work, she notices that her mother (Sheila Kelly) is talking to some guy with dreamy eyes. It turns out that this guy's name is "David" (Dan Stevens), and, get is, he just showed up out of the blue. And while it's interesting that "David" knew her dead brother (he died, I'm assuming, in some war), I'm sure he'll be on his way by the time her shift at the diner is over.

Oops, it would seem that I was a tad off when I assumed that "David" would be leaving right away. And it turns out that Anna is just as shocked as I was to see "David" drinking beers with his dad (Leland Orser) and helping his younger brother Luke (Brendan Meyer) do his homework. Personally, I wouldn't have even answered the door in the first place. I mean, who answers the door anymore? Nevertheless, it looks like this "David" fella is going to be staying with the Peterson's for at least a couple of days.

What's the worst that could happen? (You do realize that Dan Stevens is holding a gun on the film's poster, right?) You're right. I'm naive to think that "David" is Captain America. He's actually more like Jean-Claude Damme in Universal Soldier... or maybe he's more like Dolph Lundgren? I've never seen any of those movies, so I don't know which Euro-meathead is the supposed to be the bad super-soldier. 

Either way, he kind of starts off like Captain America. He beats up Luke's tormentors from school and carries kegs of beer for Anna's friends. But when Anna overhears one of "David's" conversations, she goes into sleuth mode. And that alerts Lance Reddick, who plays the head of some sort secret military project.

Whoa, I'm getting ahead of myself. Shortly before going to into "sleuth mode," Anna takes "David" to a party. While on the surface it's looks like your average Halloween party (beer and dope are liberally consumed... sexual intercourse is... intercoursed), the music is nothing but.  When I heard "Moldavia" by Front 242, I was like, yeah, Front 242, baby! The next song we hear is, "I Want To Go To Hell" by Hocico. I'm more old school when it comes to EBM, but I like 'em. After that, things get somewhat ridiculous, when "Der Mussolini" by D.A.F. starts blasting on the soundtrack. It's ridiculous because I'm hearing the music of my youth in a movie starring the guy from Downton Abbey!

I've read that director/editor Adam Wingard selected the songs from a pile that were given to him by a goth-industrial music fan named "Anna." Now, I don't know what this person's full name is, but they deserve all the credit for making The Guest a one of a kind experience. Of course, I'm not saying every movie should have a goth-industrial soundtrack... or maybe I am? Whatever, man, it was refreshing to hear music that I genuinely like in a relatively mainstream movie.

As they're driving home, "David" tells Anna that he likes the song she's playing on the car stereo. It was this scene and the song, "Masquerade" by Clan of Xymox, that solidified my opinion that Anna is one of the coolest film characters in recent memory. And I haven't even mentioned the fact that she's wearing a greyish black skull tank-top, a corset, I think (complete with garter straps), black stockings and a pair of undone Dr. Martens. Badass. 

A quick side-note: In the Encyclopedia Gothica (by Liisa Ladouceur), Clan of Xymox are described as the band who will be mostly remembered as the group whose name starts with the letter 'X' (they briefly dropped the "Clan of" during the late 1980s). Well, I think that entry should be updated. Clan of Xymox, a Dutch darkwave band, who have three, count 'em, three songs on The Guest soundtrack. My favourite Clan of Xymox song, "A Day," by the way, plays during the film's epic gymnasium showdown.

Anyway, I think the question that's on everyone's mind is... (Is The Guest a good movie?) I was going to say: Where does Anna buy her legwear? But I guess that's an important question, too. Well, to answer the whether The Guest is good or not question, I'd say, yeah, it's good. In fact, it's very good. Speaking of good, "Alles ist gut" by D.A.F. is heard during the film's epic showdown as well.

As for Anna's legwear. Even though she probably got most of them at American Apparel, those bone socks had to have been gotten somewhere else. I'm thinking she ordered them from Etsy or Ipso Facto. However, since the movie takes place in New Mexico, I suppose she could have got them at either the Hot Topic in Albuquerque, or the Hot Topic in Santa Fe, or the Hot Topic in Clovis... Damn, how many Hot Topic's does the Land of Enchantment have? Just to let you know, that's a rhetorical question. They clearly have three. In closing, if anyone has an ideas as to where Anna buys her legwear, feel free to share it with the rest of the class.


  1. The Guest's soundtrack isn't just great, it's extremely well USED.

    And you'll find more of Maika Monroe in It Follows, which I'm guessing is right up your alley. We liked it.

    You can thank HeroPress via Tim Brannan for my discovering your blog. I'm gonna spend a little time here, I think.

  2. Siskoid beat me to it... It Follows is a film you should check out ..

  3. Note to self: Watch It Follows.