Simon Barrett Talks THE GUEST, the Pressure of Following Up YOU’RE NEXT, the Non-Stop Action Movie They Almost Made First, and More at Sundance 2014

     January 23, 2014


One of my favorite films at this year’s Sundance Film Festival was The Guest.  Directed and written by the team behind You’re Next (Adam Wingard and Simon Barrett, respectively), The Guest is fantastic and as Matt said in his review, it “feels like a lost John Carpenter film from the director’s golden age.  The picture effortlessly moves between a nerve-wracking mystery to a gleefully dark comedy, and at its best it even mixes the two together.”   The story revolves around a soldier that befriends the family of a fallen comrade and becomes a threat to everyone around him when he may not be who he says he is.  Trust me, it’s a film you should be excited to see and I’m sure it’ll be released sometime this year.  The Guest stars Dan Stevens (in an amazingly dark turn), Maika MonroeLeland OrserLance ReddickChase Williamson, and Brendan Meyer.

Shortly after the premiere, I landed an exclusive video interview with screenwriter Simon Barrett.   He talked about the pressure and challenge of following up You’re Next, how much the project changed from inception to the final cut, the other movie they almost made instead of The Guest (a Korea-set action movie that would have been a non-stop chase scene for the entirety of the film), Stevens’ physical transformation, why they didn’t make cameos, and more.  He also revealed that he and Wingard already have their next two projects lined up, with the first set to shoot this year. Hit the jump to watch.

simon barrett-the-guestSimon Barrett Time Index:

  • :11 – What does it mean to be a part of the Sundance Film Festival?
  • 1:00 – How would he describe the film without giving away the twists and turns? Says it’s an action-thriller with humor and horror elements: “It has pretty much every genre except documentary.”
  • 1:54 – Talks about Dan Stevens’ physical transformation for the film. Says he lost a lot of weight right after Downton Abbey to play a junkie in A Walk Among the Tombstones, but then worked out and bulked up for The Guest.
  • 3:13 – The shooting schedule. Says they shot for 31 days in New Mexico last July and August.
  • 3:58 – How much did the project change from inception to the final cut?  Says not a lot, they just did polishing here and there.
  • 5:34 – The pressure and challenge of following up You’re Next. Says he had to adapt from just answering to Adam Wingard to having producers, agents, fans, etc. asking when the next draft or project was coming.
  • 7:45 – His writing process and how it’s changed since You’re Next.
  • adam-wingard-simon-barrett-the-guest8:39 – Were there other ideas that he and Adam Wingard considered for their next project, or was it always going to be The Guest?  Talks about an action movie that would have been a non-stop chase scene. “After we finished You’re Next, we had this idea that we were gonna do a movie that was a non-stop chase scene, because we loved the action in You’re Next and we loved shooting it and conceiving it.”  Says they were going to shoot in Korea and even did some location scouting, but it was too ambitious and the script “was never good enough.”
  • 10:15 – How The Guest initially came about. Adam Wingard pitched “Terminator meets Halloween,” and Barrett had an old script about a mysterious soldier coming to stay with a family.
  • 12:20 – Talks about not having cameos in the movie for the first time ever.
  • 14:09 – Future projects. Says they have their next two projects already lined up, and their initial plan was to shoot both of them in 2014 but they might do one this year and one next year.  “If we’re not filming something within six or seventh months, we’ll both be pretty bummed out.”


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