Review: Dear Guest

Year: 2020

Runtime: 11 minutes

Director: Megan Freels Johnston

Writer: Megan Freels Johnston

Actors: Ashley Bell, Noureen DeWulf

By Joan Amenn

The season of long, dark shadows can’t end now, when we have one last little gem of a scare to enjoy in “Dear Guest” (2020). Director Megan Freels Johnston concocted this quick potion of a disturbing “what if” scenario and although short, it packs a nice punch. An attractive couple arrive at their rental house destination for some much-deserved vacation time but find that an unknown host has a dangerous sense of fun. Maria (Ashley Bell) and Jules (Noureen DeWulf) are at first enthusiastic with their getaway destination and have real chemistry together. Bell was recently featured in “The Swerve” where she played a demanding narcissist, so it is nice to see her in a role that is the direct opposite here.  Maria is smart and even heroic in attempting to figure out what she and her partner are up against. DeWulf as Jules is the ambitious career woman on the verge of burnout which is why the two have decided to embark on this break from the rat race. Johnston is clever in making the house a lovely midcentury modern style surrounded with lush landscaping and an enticing pool. It’s as far from menacing and sinister as anyone could possibly imagine, which is why it is a seductive trap for whoever has snared the couple in their sudden game of cat and mouse.

We don’t get any clue as to why the couple are being terrorized or even how the unknown tormentor is able to maneuver around the house without being detected. Through sheer luck and a little frantic deduction, Maria and Jules survive through the end of the film, but it’s clear that their ordeal is far from over. A little more screen time with these two to build up the suspense just a tad more would have been delicious but as it is, “Dear Guest” is a tasty appetizer of horror served up with a perfect soundtrack. It will be available on YouTube and Amazon this weekend so perhaps consider making it part of your holiday movie marathon to send October out with a shriek.

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