The House Guest Movie Review

Written by Stuart D. Monroe

Released by Grey Sheep Productions

the house guest poster large

Written and directed by David Walton Smith
2021, 11 minutes, Not Rated
Released on January 1st, 2021

Susanne McDonald as Susanne
Lizzie Mears as Lizzie
Hagan Ragland as Hagan
Braxton Williams as Roger

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I don’t know about you, but when I get my hands on a big, old house for a night or three, my first instinct is to get comfy and watch some horror flicks. It’s just how I work. That’s how I speak to a new place and establish that we are going to be spending a lot of time together. Automatically, I can relate to the two friends at the center of The House Guest. That’s good, too, since they’re about to engage in some classic horror movie stupidity and open channels that shouldn’t be opened.

Susanne (Susanne McDonald; The Bathroom) and her best friend, Lizzie (Lizzie Mears; Dollface), are hanging out in Susanne’s new house. Well, it’s not new; it’s quite old and has been giving Susanne a serious case of the heebie-jeebies. Lizzie invites over awkward Hagan (Hagan Ragland) to help figure out what’s wrong with the house. Hagan’s secret weapon (aside from a bottle of reposado tequila)? His friend, Roger (Braxton Williams; 8 Graves). The amazing Roger is “experienced at this kind of shit”, Hagan claims. One makeshift Ouija board (hastily drawn on a glass tabletop) later and the four are having a séance to determine what is haunting Susanne’s home. When she doesn’t like the answers that the spirit gives, she boots everyone out but leaves an open channel, trapping herself in the house with whatever walks through.

The optimum word for The House Guest is classic. It’s not a short that’s about trying to reinvent the wheel or even do anything differently; quite the opposite, in fact. Two women watching a horror flick (Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives…nice choice!) and talking about the spooky new house they’re in is something we’ve seen a million times before. It’s comfort food. However, when it’s done with love and an eye and ear for the aesthetic of the archetype, it never fails to entertain. In other words, the classics never go out of style, and writer-director David Walton Smith knows how to put together damn good-looking work.

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The music is perfectly paced, thumping when it needs to thump and shrieking when you need a little jolt. It’s simple and effective much like the visual effects, which are of the most basic variety. Shooting in black and white is the stylistic go-to for something as toned-down as The House Guest. It’s truly timeless horror in structure and presentation, the kind of thing that would work in the Golden Age of Cinema as well as it does in 2021.

The cast is small and very capable, filling each role well. You’ll recognize Hagan. We all have a friend like Hagan – awkward as an unintended fart and as dorky as is humanly possible. Susanne and Lizzie are both highly believable and natural (and a little bland). The scene-stealer and driver of the action is the “paranormal expert”, Roger. Braxton Williams is one of the highlights of 8 Graves, so it’s no surprise that his performance as the makeshift medium is a lot of damn fun. How about more of this guy in 2021?

The House Guest is classic haunting horror, a throwback that blends qualities of different eras (the ‘80s-style house party/séance setup, black-and-white filming, and textbook musical cues) to create something that’s as familiar and welcome as a cup of hot coffee on a frigid winter morning.

Sure, you’ve had it plenty of times before, but this is quality stuff and the conditions are just right for a cup.

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Movie: 3.5 Star Rating Cover

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Stuart D. Monroe
Staff Reviewer
Stuart D. Monroe is a man of many faces – father, husband, movie reviewer, published author of short horror, unsuccessful screenwriter (for now), rabid Clemson Tiger, Southern gentleman, and one hell of a model American who goes by the handle "Big Daddy Stu" or "Sir". He's also highly disturbed and wears that fact like a badge of honor. He is a lover of all things horror with a particular taste for the fare of the Italians and the British. He sometimes gets aroused watching the hardcore stuff, but doesn't bother worrying about whether he was a serial killer in a past life as worrying is for the weak. He was raised in the video stores of the '80s and '90s. The movie theater is his cathedral. He worships H.P. Lovecraft, Stephen King, and Clive Barker. When he writes, he listens obsessively to either classical music or the works of Goblin to stimulate the neural pathways. His favorite movie is Dawn of the Dead. His favorite book is IT. His favorite TV show is LOST.
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