Review: The Guest Room

Written  and directed by Stefano Lodovichi, the morning Stella decides to take her own life, a stranger knocks at her door claiming the guest room he booked for the night. Surprised but charmed by this man who seems to know her very well, Stella decides to let him in. But when Sandro, the man who broke Stella’s heart, joins them at home, this odd situation turns immediately into chaos. Starring: Guido Caprino, Camilla Filippi, Edoardo Pesce and Romeo Pellegrini.

If you’re a fan of closed in stories with few characters and gradually intensifying plots then The Guest Room is going to be for you. It throws a great deal of red flags at you from the start, setting a strong atmosphere of distrust which continues to deepen. The direction it takes is likely going to divide audiences, it’s certainly not a straight forward home invasion story. The progression and tone work really well but the story itself requires a stretch of the imagination, and will probably work for some better than others. In the sense of a horror themed family drama it’s unusual and creates a kind of forced reflection which isn’t uncommon in the horror world but the film adds its own take.

Having a tense, dark and violent film set in a isolated, rundown and old-fashioned building, is always going to be a good combination. It’s a perfect setting and the film grasps that slightly twisted, charged atmosphere right from the start. Stefano Lodovichi plays things with a clear and intense note throughout, the story may have its ups and downs but the direction continues pushing deeper to close in the walls. The colour palette in particular adds a nice edge of coldness, mystery and leaves the era more open to interpretation, not having its feet stamped too decisively in one era.

The performances are another element which really lean into the intensity, and they do it with a great balance. Guido Caprino brings the unpredictability and fire, Camilla Filippi brings emotion and insecurity, Edoardo Pesce adds a brutish, selfish angle and Romeo Pellegrini rounds things out with a vulnerability and sympathy. All of which keep you glued in but Caprino does give a lot of himself away a little too quickly, the aggressive behaviour is pushing too hard. It makes perfect sense later in the story but the character is mysterious enough without needing to press so much in the initial scenes, leaning less on those red flags may have made it more interesting and given more room to grow the character.

The Guest Room is an unusual and gripping horror thriller but its story takes a few risky chances that don’t all pay off. It’s shot extremely well to really embrace the intensity and isolation, there’s great detail and tone. The performances each add different elements to the atmosphere to stop it from feeling one noted. It’s familiar and yet not, it’s creative but divisive, bringing audiences a concept that may require you to give more of your imagination than you’re willing, and ultimately leave you a touch unsatisfied.

Verdict: ✯✯✯½ | 7/10

Available in the US and Canada on Digital HD & Cable VOD October 25th

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