Friday, April 5, 2013
Film Review: The Uninvited Guest (2004)
Guillem Morales is the writer and director of The Uninvited Guest, and he's also a hell of a tightrope artist. His protagonist is Felix, a youngish architect living in a large, rambling house somewhere in Spain. Felix's long-term girlfriend has just left him and is now in an apartment of her own, although some of her stuff is still in the house. One night a stranger comes to Felix's door and asks if he can use the phone. Felix allows him in and leaves the room while the man makes his call. He comes back a few minutes later and finds that the man has gone, but he hasn't heard the front door close. From that point on Felix becomes convinced that the man is somehow hiding in his house; he hears noises, things are left out of place, and he's generally completely spooked. The audience is left with many questions: is Felix going mad? Is he the victim of a plot? Is it a ghost? Is his ex-girlfriend involved? As Felix becomes more paranoid the story takes some twists and turns that are, well, completely bonkers.
For the most part, Morales stays on the tightrope. At a few points he slips and is left dangling by his fingers, even his teeth, but he manages to get to the other side without falling into the canyon of "Oh, for Chrissake, this is effing ridiculous! Let's watch House Hunters." A big part of the film's entertainment value comes from watching Morales devise ever more byzantine plot twists, but, like many thrillers with outrageous concepts, the finish doesn't quite equal what's come before. That said, The Uninvited Guest is a worthwhile film based solely on its audacity and the director's enthusiasm for making his character jump through some pretty strange hoops. Not a first-class thriller, but certainly a strong performer in the minor leagues of the genre.