I’m sure I’m not the first person to notify you that Adam Wingard and Simon Barrett’s underrated 2014 action/horror/thriller hybrid “The Guest” has been recently added to Netflix. And if I am, then welcome to the party.
There will be spoilers galore in this, but the main premise is Dan Steven’s David showing up on the grieving Peterson family’s doorstep. He claims he was in the same unit as their son Caleb who was killed in battle and that they had an agreement to visit the others family if anything happened to them. He’s welcomed into their home and turns on the charm, but every time he’s left alone David stares blankly into space while menacing techno music starts swelling. Caleb’s sister Anna (Maika Monroe) is the only one to catch onto something suspicious, while brother Luke (Brendan Meyer) takes a liking to David. Complications arise as David’s mysterious past catches up with him.
Since the film’s cult status and addition to streaming has inspired many a piece already on its dark humor, killer soundtrack, and vibrant cinematography, I thought I could instead offer my queer perspective of it:
David is a butch icon.
Please, come back. Let me explain.
Living my life as a butch lesbian means that I don’t get to see myself represented a lot in the media I consume. The scraps we lesbians get to see of ourselves are usually femmes. Even Hollywood’s idea of a “butch” is less reminiscent of my actual identity and more just…a conventionally attractive girl with a short haircut wearing a t-shirt.
So, like other marginalized identities, I find myself in other ways when I watch things. And I had a sort of revelation one of the more recent times I revisited “The Guest.” I realized that, in some ways, David’s behavior and demeanor are kind of my goals as a butch.
*HUGE disclaimer that this is no way about the whole…murdering thing.
**This is completely singular to my experience and does not speaks for all butches
Southern gentleman manners
Stevens portrays David with an unspecified subtle Southern drawl, bringing along the typical manners deemed from the South. What jumped out to me was the way he addresses everyone with the formal “sir” and “ma’am,” and when he opens the car door for Anna. This aspiration of the mine for the same chivalry either stems from my dad’s influence or from that one Evan Rachel Wood interview—both are from North Carolina. We’ll just never know.
Can drink anyone under the table
Now this could be one of the benefits caused by whatever serum or experiment was implemented on him to make him the Evil Steve Rogers we see in the film. But he’s also just a big dude, so it could be that. All I know is that David is always left unphased after pounding away a countless amount of beers and I personally believe that I could win any drinking contest in a seedy bar like Marion in “Raiders of the Lost Ark.”
Strong enough to carry two kegs at once into a party
Speaking of alcohol, this boss move David pulls is legitimately how I want to arrive at the first post-COVID party I attend. When he tags along with Anna to her friend’s party, the host Kristen says that Anna’s boyfriend is waiting for someone else to help him carry the kegs. David, who doesn’t need someone’s loser boyfriend to help, just asks where the kegs are. He shows up a minute later with one over his shoulder like prized game and the other dangling in his hand like it’s nothing. Kristen is impressed to say the least. What’s the point of me being a big fat butch if I can’t achieve this?
Defends women against shitty exes and gay boys against bullies
David’s move with those kegs catches Kristen’s attention, but what seals the deal is when her ex arrives at the party looking to cause problems. David immediately steps in. When the dude gets rowdy, he simply smashes his head in a photograph on the wall and tells his boys to get him out of there. Now, my butch ideal would first involve some mediation before resorting to violence but I’m not opposed to it to defend women. I also would not shoot said woman in cold blood later on when things get sour like David does, but that’s a different conversation.
Now, sweet Luke. Luke’s sexuality is never specifically elaborated in the film. He lashes back at one of his bullies after being called the Other F Word and faces expulsion for it. David prevents this in the defense that it was a hate crime. It could be argued that he just used this as a tactic. However, it’s also never denied, and one could definitely read Luke’s otherness and target of bullying as being gay. I honestly think he even has a bit of a crush on David, who earlier comes to his rescue when he finds out he’s being bullied at school. His method of handling the bullies is not exactly my ideal since I’m not interested in beating up a bunch of teenagers, but it’s the thought that counts, right?
Carries a pocketknife “just in case”
I once told my friend I have a knife in my jeans and she screamed, “OKAY, DYKE.” Mine was gifted to me as a friend for protection—my obvious queerness has granted me many a glare from strangers—but luckily all I’ve had to use it for is opening boxes and looking cool because I don’t need to ask for scissors.
There’s a scene in which David and Luke are carving pumpkins for Halloween, David struggles with the dull kitchen knife provided. He then whips out a fancy butterfly knife (which is not the kind I own, as they are usually illegal and I’m not Frank Castle) and goes to town on the pumpkin. He even gifts it to Luke later as another super acceptable way to face his bullies.
This is obviously a wild take on this super fun film so even you’ve gotten this far and still have no idea what I’m saying, I hope you give “The Guest” a chance. If nothing else, consider how far I’ve had to reach for a semblance of representation, and said representation kills a lot of people so I could ask for something more down the line.
And then mosey over to “Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga” on Netflix to see what RANGE Dan Stevens has.