‘The Guest’ ponders on themes of Infidelity, Mental Illness & Goodwill but it establishes none!
Director: Christian Olayinka
Writer: Folake Olaniyi
Cast: Rita Dominic, Femi Jacobs, and Somkhele Iyamah
When last did you watch a Nigerian thriller that got you screaming in the theater? “The Guest” will make you scream, sometimes, for its graphic scenes and other times for its story-line that focuses on the wicked heart of a trusted friend but mostly you will scream for its lack of consistency.
A successful and beautiful looking couple Lola and Bill (Somkhele Iyamah and Femi Jacobs) welcome a friend to their home after she is extradited. She starts an affair with the husband and sets out to kill anyone that threatens this affair. The story-line is laced with a psychologically imbalanced woman; she keeps us entertained through the film. Most times she gets us upset but “The Guest” does not fully establish her purpose in the film.
Bill and Lola are representatives of the uncomfortable dynamics of marriage; like every couple they argue but like many unfaithful men, he cheats with the enemy and this starts their problem. Will Nicky destroy this family if Bill had remained faithful?
The film registers itself as a psychological thriller. Though it bears a lot in common with films like “Obsessed,” “The Perfect Guy” it is able to establish itself as its own story because it is perfectly cast but the cast delivers on a script that poses too many questions without offering answers. Rita Dominic is the perfect psycho. She is mean and we have enough time to hate her as Nicky. She re-unites with Femi Jacobs and this time around they sustain the drama with their forbidden chemistry to keep us entertained.
Even the good acting of Femi and Rita is not enough to make us totally love “The Guest.” At the end of the film, we had to ask “Is that all there is to it?” Nicky raises a lot of questions, her attitude forces us to ponder, is it obsession for the man or for his money? Her obsession starts when she sees his house and when she knows how much he has invested in his wife’s business. Bill does not bear any sign of unhappiness but he cheats because Nicky is able to provide him with the kind of sexual excitement he can’t get from his wife. Things happen too fast, he does not think, he hurries to cheat; he gets excited too early. He does not resist Nicky’s sexual advances, he bows to it and even when his wife is in a coma, he sleeps with the enemy and we never know why.
The writer does not formulate any concrete background to the situations in the film. Rather, she re-iterates what we are used to hearing and seeing on film-that all men are cheats.
“The Guest” is problematic because it is entertaining but at the end of the entertainment there is no concrete lesson to go home with. Should we stop accommodating friends in our houses or should men stop cheating, or rather, should we pay more attention to our metal health, it never answers any of this questions but it asks this questions. More questions to ask about Nicky; is it dissatisfaction with her life that causes her action or is she mentally ill? None of this is established but we see her exhibit traits of a psychologically disturbed person.
The Guest could have been better with more attention to the story, it could have built on mental illness, infidelity or betrayal or just a balance for all of these problems but there is none.
“The Guest” earns a 4/10