Rapid Movie Review: ‘The Guest’ & ‘The Maze Runner’


Preston Barta // Critic

THE GUEST | 99 min. | Rated R | Director: Adam Wingard | Stars: Dan Stevens, Maika Monroe, Brendan Meyer, Sheila Kelley, Leland Orser, Lance ReddickTabatha ShaunJoel David Moore and Ethan Embry

Destined to be a cult classic, THE GUEST is an absorbing and tremendously unique piece of cinema from the genre-bending minds that brought us YOU’RE NEXT (Adam Wingard and Simon Barrett). It’s a self-aware mix of action, suspense and dark humor that has a retro vibe without being old fashioned.

THE GUEST follows the Peterson family, who meet a soldier named David (a wickedly good Dan Stevens), claiming to be a friend of their son who died in action. After the family welcome the mysterious man into their home, a series of accidental deaths occur that may or may not be linked David. Should they have let David in?

With its memorable electro-synth score and ever-increasing tension, THE GUEST is one of the bloodiest-good times that this year has to offer. The entire experience works so well thanks to Stevens (DOWNTON ABBEY), who portrays “David” as a more sincere version of Ryan Gosling’s character in DRIVE. This is one of the best theater experiences. So don’t miss it!

THE GUEST is playing in select theaters and opens wider in the coming weeks.

Our interview with star Dan Stevens (Gwen’s written interview here), writer Simon Barrett and director Adam Wingard

THE MAZE RUNNER | 113 min. | Rated PG-13 | Director: Wes Ball | Stars: Dylan O’Brien, Kaya Scodelario, Will Poulter, Thomas Brodie-Sangster, Aml Ameen, Ki Hong Lee, Blake Cooper and Patricia Clarkson

Rating: ☆☆☆

Based on the best-selling young adult novel of the same name, THE MAZE RUNNER is the latest, and one of the largest adaptations to arrive in cinemas yet. Inevitably comparable to the likes of THE HUNGER GAMES and/or any other adapted series, it’s in fairly good chances to be the next big franchise, and deservedly so.

Much like THE LORD OF THE FLIES or an episode of LOST, we are much a part of the journey as the characters are, as the film opens with a young man (Dylan O’Brien) waking up in an elevator that goes to the surface of an enclosed area (“the glade”) filled with 60 other teen boys. How did he get there? Why is he there? The answers will come, once they see a path out of the labyrinth that surrounds them.

As far as adaptations of young adult series go, THE MAZE RUNNER may be the finest first installment out of the gate. Director Wes Ball keeps things engaging and the pace at full tilt. So you don’t walk away dissatisfied.

THE MAZE RUNNER opens tonight.

Our interview w/ Dylan O’Brien, Will Poulter and Kaya Scodelario

About author

Preston Barta

Hello, there! My name is Preston Barta, and I am the features editor of Fresh Fiction and senior film critic at the Denton Record-Chronicle. My cinematic love story began where I was born: off planet on the isolated desert world of the Jakku system. It's there I passed the time scavenging for loose parts with my good friend Rey. One day I found an old film projector and a dusty reel of the 1975 film JAWS. It rocked my world so much that I left my kinfolk in the rearview (I so miss their morning cups of green milk) to pursue my dreams of writing about film. It wasn't long until I met two gents who said they would give me a lift. I can't recall their names, but one was an older man who liked to point a lot and the other was a tall, hairy fella. They got me as far as one of Jupiter's moons where we crossed paths with the U.S.S. Enterprise. Some pointy-eared bastard said I was clear to come aboard. He saw that I was clutching my beloved shark movie and invited me to the "moving pictures room" where he was screening the 1993 film JURASSIC PARK to his crew. He said my life would be much more prosperous if I were familiar with more work by the god named Steven Spielberg. From there, my love for cinema blossomed. Once we reached planet Earth, everything changed. I found the small town of Denton, TX, and was welcomed into the Barta family. They showed me the writings of local film critic Boo Allen. He became my hero and caused me to chase a degree in film and journalism. After my studies at graduate of the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, I met some film critics who showed me the ropes and got me into my first press screening: 2011's THE GREEN LANTERN. Don't worry; I recovered just fine. MAD MAX: FURY ROAD was only four years away.