The Uninvited Guest is a movie I reviewed nearly five years ago. I recently found it listed on one of those internet teaser sites under the heading, “Ten of the best horror movies you’ve never seen.” Seeing it listed got me to dig out my DVD of the movie.
The movie is not a horror movie, although what goes on during the film is strange, often surreal, and has a nightmarish quality. It is more correctly a psychological thriller, and in terms of theme and style I would guess its godfather would be David Lynch, whose movies create their own nightmares. Guest uses some of Lynch’s techniques, although it resists the urge to change characters into other characters in mid-movie. Actually, not quite. There are parallels in Guest, which I also notice in Lynch. The parallels come in protagonist Felix’s total paranoia during the first half of the film, wondering whether there is someone living in his house whom he cannot locate, and the second half, where Felix becomes a person who is living in someone else’s house surreptitiously. Another trick is to use the same actress to portray both Felix’s girlfriend, and the wife of the man Felix believes is the one who was hiding in his house.
I did not mention the most obvious parallel in my first review because, frankly, I wasn’t smart enough to pick it up on first watching. After nearly five years of experience and at times total immersion in films and techniques, I am more aware of those storytelling devices that can be unique to movies.
The Uninvited Guest is also film noir. It is dark and brooding, and presents an existential mystery.
Here is my original review, written October 27, 2010:
Felix is an artist and architect who lives in a huge house he designed. He's alone because his girlfriend, Vera, has left him. One night a man comes to his door and asks to use his telephone. Felix leaves the man in a room, then comes back, but the man has disappeared.
Felix searches for him, but doesn't find him. That night he hears noises as if someone else is in the house.
Is someone, that man, there or is Felix's mind playing tricks? Is he paranoid, or is there a stranger living in his house, a master of evasion, moving one step ahead of Felix while he obsessively searches?
As the audience for the movie, The Uninvited Guest, we're unsure ourselves. Felix draws a portrait for Vera of the man he saw. Later he finds out his portrait looks like the man who lives in Number 5, just up the street.
Felix goes back to his own house with a gun, goes upstairs, where a dark shape emerges from the shadows. Felix fires, hitting the shadowed figure. Rather than call the police, he locks the door so the person cannot get away, leaving him to die. In yet another strange twist, he then enters the house where the man lives, and then Felix becomes the uninvited guest.
The man he believes was in his house is named Martin, and his wife, whose legs are paralyzed from an accident, is Claudia. Both Claudia and Vera, the girlfriend, are played by Mónica López. The resemblance between the two women keeps him from leaving Claudia's house. The bizarre scenes of him staying one step ahead of her are choreographed almost like a dance.
This 2004 movie, in its native Spanish called El Habitante Incierto, is a film written and directed by Guillem Morales. It stars handsome young actor Andoni Gracia as Felix. The film has been called Hitchcockian, but I don't see it as that. It's a horror-suspense movie that plays on some of our primal fears, like unseen presences. The ending leaves some questions, but I like that. I like to think back and figure it out. Some people don't like having to figure out an ending, and some people don't like subtitles. If you don't speak Spanish you need the subtitles, and if you haven't been watching the film you'll find the twist ending enigmatic.
I recommend this movie.