A Character Study of David: The Guest

Hi, would you be so kind to let me kill you?

Similar to Dexter, the sociopathic personality persona lends itself well to watching actors act like they’re acting. Dexter, David, Norman, and several other cinematic examples come to mind. Narratively, characters without normal internal emotions become exceedingly skilled at charming their way from person to person.

What does it mean to be charming? In cinema, we see various characters that are charming, and to some extent most of us have a conception of what charming might mean. Is it likability? The instant feeling of trust? Is it appearance, or primarily personality? Is it a characteristic effected by appearance though on it’s own continuum? Perhaps with charm on the right-hand side spectrum, and creepiness on the left? It never really occurred to me why charm is so elusive, and yet so incredibly effective as both a social tool and a manipulative tool. 

Take Dan Stevens character from The Guest, “David” he’s smooth as fuck, assertive, somewhat mild mannered, but above all, this word seems to fit his character the most. “Charm” is a weird word that I haven’t really thought much about prior to watching this film, but it’s powerful, magnetizing, and borderline inspiring. To some, I can easily see wanting to be charming as one of the more desirable qualities to achieve, and by studying behavior and action, facial expression, and speech patterns, it seems like it could be learned to some extent… just like the sociopaths on screen.

It’s very heavily implied that David is Caleb, and the experimental programming given to him by the military has given him a very skewed view on how he sees violence; when threatened he can’t even stop himself from killing to protect himself or his cover, as seen when he’s found out. He shows remorse when killing his family members, because deep down he really doesn’t want to.

All the killings and sociopathic acts were ways he thought he was genuinely helping his family. He wanted to be in their lives and help them, even if he didn’t realize just how destructive a force he was going to be coming back like this. The film was showing how from early on, we think we know more than the family does about what he’s up to because we’ve seen more of his violent actions, but with more information all that’s happened is we’ve prematurely reached the wrong conclusion in our mind.

We misattribute the cause. By showing that David is just a man with a broken mind trying to help in this misguided way, at the end of the film we see there was no deeper purpose to helping them, because there was nothing they could really give him, and he never tried to ask for anything from them, no scam, or ways to use them. All he wanted to do was help, and how he saw helping them was by destroying them…. So yeah basically Ultron in a nut shell, anyways that’s my rant… If you have no idea what I’m talking about go rent The Guest, you’ll be pleasantly surprised at home good and “Charming” the film was. Cheers.

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