SXSW 2014: Frank & The Guest
An aspiring keyboardist named Jon (Domhnall Gleeson) stumbles into an impeccable opportunity when he walks passed a band that just so happens to need a keyboardist after theirs recently tried to drown himself in the ocean. The best part about this band is that the lead singer, Frank (played by Michael Fassbender), wears a giant papier mache head at all times—even while sleeping and eating, making those situations hysterical. When Jon asks the band member how Frank is able to brush his teeth, he is given the perfect reply, “You’re going to just have to go with it.” It’s this kind of tongue-in-cheek attitude that makes Frank so entertaining to watch.
Unfortunately, Frank doesn’t always bother to follow its own rules. Inside of the third act, the film felt obligated to explain too much of its self, disrupting the go with the flow mentality that came before it. That being said, Frank is still an absurdist comedy about discovering inner creativity that is worth seeking out–especially at SXSW since the festival makes an appearance in the film.
Perhaps the most exciting collaboration in the horror genre as of late is director Adam Wingard and writer Simon Barrett. Together the duo has previously worked on the V/H/S series and more recently in the horror/comedy You’re Next. Continuing with their trend of genre mashing, their latest effort in The Guest takes the action and badassery of The Terminator and mixes it with the style and sound of Halloween.
A solider (Dan Stevens) shows up at a door claiming to know the owners son before he passed away in the war. He is a charming man with hypnotic blue eyes and is handsomely built. The family accepts him into the house after he plays his cards right, radiating more cool than even Ryan Gosling could exude. Eventually one of the family members begins to grow suspicious of him after showing signs of trying to hide his true identity.
Using the same equipment used on the soundtrack of John Carpenter’s Halloween 3, the energetic synth soundtrack in The Guest superbly produces the pacing for the mayhem that unfolds. Even though the main character is clearly the villain, I found myself still rooting for him at times—like when he helps one of the family members from being bullied at school. The Guest is like an atmospheric 80s action thriller that is intentionally overacted and exaggerated. The story is not very elaborate, but that doesn’t matter when you’re having this much fun.