[Review] Guest (Arrow Video FrightFest): A Fleeing Woman Has Every Reason to Be Terror-Stricken in Chilling Short Film

Writer/director Finn Callan’s U.K. short film Guest is rich in spine-tingling atmosphere, from the bandaged appearance of its protagonist Mary (Melania Crisan) to the heavy sense of dread throughout to the decidedly creepy reason why Mary is in her current state. 

Mary has entered, uninvited, the home of a woman (Jessica Munna) after being pursued by something of which she was obviously terrified. When she wakes up later, her wounds dressed, the woman asks her about what happened, but Mary is in no physical or psychological state to talk about it. But viewers get the opportunity to see, and cinematographer Fyodor Houtheusen’s lingering close-ups of the titular entity (Anna Fraser) are hypnotic and unsettling. The sleek, spooky design by prosthetic special effects artist Francesca Giacovelli is truly unnerving. 

Callan has crafted a short that builds a claustrophobic world often drenched in ice-cold blue, a perfect match for the chilling goings-on. The sound department’s work is eerily effective and a big part of the Guest’s atmosphere, assisted by the fitting score from Oxxymoron. Crisan is terrific as the frantic, petrified Mary. She is on screen for most of Guest, and carries the short wonderfully.

Callan has introduced a nerve-jangling new supernatural creation with Guest, and although the short is a fine story as is, it is also ripe for a feature-length treatment. Callan has a fine understanding of horror cinema and is a talented filmmaker, and is someone worth keeping an eye out for with his future projects.

Guest screens as part of Arrow Video FrightFest’s 2020 digital edition, which runs from August 28–31.

4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5)

Joseph Perry
Joseph Perry fell in love with horror films as a preschooler when he first saw the Gill-Man swim across the TV screen in "The Creature from The Black Lagoon" and Mothra battle Godzilla in "Godzilla Vs. The Thing.” His education in fright fare continued with TV series such as "The Twilight Zone" and "Outer Limits," along with legendary northern California horror host Bob Wilkins’ "Creature Features." His love for silver age and golden age comic books, including horror titles from Gold Key, Dell, and Marvel started around age 5.

He is a contributing writer for the "Phantom of the Movies VideoScope" and “Drive-In Asylum” print magazines and the websites Horror Fuel, Diabolique Magazine, The Scariest Things, B&S About Movies, and When It Was Cool. He is a co-host of the "Uphill Both Ways" pop culture nostalgia podcast and also writes for its website. Joseph occasionally proudly co-writes articles with his son Cohen Perry, who is a film critic in his own right.

A former northern Californian and Oregonian, Joseph has been teaching, writing, and living in South Korea since 2008.