The first half of “The Guest” feels inspired by “The Return of Martin Guerre” (1982) or its Hollywood remake, “Sommersby” (1993), but set in a post-Gulf War milieu.

Anna and Spencer Peterson (Sheila Kelley and Leland Orser) have been grieving the death of their son, a soldier who died in combat overseas. One day, a young veteran, David (Dan Stevens from “Downton Abbey”), appears on their doorstep, claiming to have been their late son’s best buddy, and here to deliver his dying words to them.

David soon ingratiates his way into their home, befriending the younger son, Luke (Brendan Meyer), by defending him from school bullies, while putting the moves on daughter Annie (Maika Monroe). Some mysterious deaths in town, though, leave Annie wondering whether the charming-yet-cagey David is really the man he claims to be.

The Guest
Director Adam Wingard
Language English
Opens Nov. 8

It’s in the second half that the film starts to feel like a leftover “Captain America” script, with its outlandish plotting and an ever-increasing body count. While “Martin Guerre” was a great parable about people believing what they want to believe and a study in deception and manipulation, “The Guest” devolves into just another final-girl/psycho-killer climax.

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