The Two Best Movies You Haven’t Seen: A Highlight of the Filmmaking Duo Adam Wingard and Simon Barrett
Two movies recently released have earned director Adam Wingard and writer Simon Barrett considerable acclaim, and this article is going to explain why you need to watch them. Immediately. I’ll separately break down why each movie is worth a watch in just a moment, after a quick rundown on their creators.
You’re Next, released in 2013, and The Guest, released in 2014, aren’t the only movies these two filmmakers have produced, but are easily their best, and the easiest to track down, so they will be the sole focus.
Adam Wingard is an excellent example of what can be done on a (relatively) small budget. As Hollywood becomes further dominated by sterile, unexciting movies with over-inflated budgets, Wingard stands out with an epic command of style. Whether that be the music he chooses to include, or the 80’s nostalgia he injects into proceedings, he’s found a way to create movies that simultaneously mashup well-known films/genre tropes, and flourish into something entirely their own.
This strength comes from his partnership with writer Simon Barrett. His friend and fellow movie-buff, Barrett writes movies that play with audience expectations in entertaining ways. From what I’ve read about their collaborative process, it’s clear that they’ve found the best possible way to cull exactly what they want from the other half of the duo, regardless of if that pertains to soundtrack, humor, or anything else.
Wingard and Barrett are easily the filmmakers I am most anxiously awaiting a follow-up from. Now onto the movies themselves.
Where to Watch: Netflix Instant, Amazon Instant Video
The same applies to the second movie on this list, but You’re Next especially is the perfect movie for gathering a group of friends, sitting in front of the TV with a few beers, and having a great time.
The movie is best watched with minimal knowledge going in—trust me—but here’s the basic setup: A semi-estranged family gathers together in a huge vacation home for a family reunion, which quickly goes wrong when men in animal masks assault the house.
That’s really all you need to know.
Despite being made on a budget of $1 million (chump change in the days of $350 million Hollywood budgets), You’re Next entertains throughout with creative kills, practical gore effects, and capable acting. While it may seem on the surface to be standard, home-invasion horror movie fare, do not be fooled. As I mentioned before, the movie excels at subverting audience expectations. Sometimes, you’ll guess a plot development exactly. And other times, you’ll be dead wrong.
The film hopes you’ve seen other famous home-invasion horror movies like The Strangers, Straw Dogs, and Panic Room—you’ll be more easily fooled that way.
The stylistic elements are what bring it to the next level, to more than just something to laugh/cringe at for 90 minutes. The score has a synth element in it that hasn’t been used better since John Carpenter’s The Thing and Halloween (or any of his movies, for that matter), and there’s an oppressively dark atmosphere to the cinematography that sucks the audience in almost immediately.
Considering this movie is on Netflix Instant, there really isn’t any reason for you to not watch this movie. Tonight. Go forth and have a good time.
Where to Watch: iTunes, Amazon Instant Video
The Guest had a more recent release, so isn’t available to stream quite yet, but it’s worth finding on Video On Demand, because it’s amazing. Unlike You’re Next, which is a horror-comedy, this film is pure action-thriller, and its no nonsense opening lends an immediacy to proceedings that is pretty rare.
Again, it’s best to go in as blind as possible, but here’s the premise: the Petersons are still grieving over their son, Caleb, who was killed in the war in Afghanistan, when David Collins shows up (the titular guest) with the goal of “helping the family”, since he served with Caleb in combat. Since this is Wingard and Barrett we are talking about, things aren’t as simple as they seem, but I’ll say no more.
When I first watched The Guest, it struck me that there is just something undeniably cool about the movie that I couldn’t put a precise finger on. There’s a gorgeous use of color throughout, and a running Fall/Halloween theme that serves as another homage to the John Carpenter elements that inform so much of the filmmakers’ work.
But the true home run is in the soundtrack. Seriously, The Guest is going up against Interstellar for best soundtrack of 2014, as far as I’m concerned—and the latter film had a score composed by Hans when-has-he-done-anything-wrong Zimmer. The staccato synth beats and 80’s Goth music are ever present, but never obvious, and always fit the scene regardless of the mismatch between music time period and film time period.
Overall, The Guest is a lightning fast, fun, and original movie, and although it’s already received critical acclaim, it deserves a bigger audience. So help it out.
Adam Wingard and Simon Barrett have made it their goal to create movies that they love to make—and in the process have released original, entertaining, stylish movies that are impossible for the audience to not love as well. Trust me on this one, and go watch these movies. I bet my credibility that you won’t regret it.
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