Review: The Guest House
The Guest House is written, directed and produced by Michael Baumgarten. Starring Madeline Merritt as Amy, the midwestern newcomer, and Ruth Reynolds as Rachel, the Los Angeles goth girl, the film tries to tell a steamy love story.
Yeah, I said “tries”.
You know how they say “write what you know”? Well, they do. And I’m not convinced Mr Baumgarten knows much about lesbians. I have images in my head of him stopping action and asking them for “more giggling” and demanding that makeup find progressively darker and more blinding shades of lipstick.
So, there’s a plot. Spoilers ahead.
We first meet “goth” Rachel (apparently “goth” in LA means “dark eyeliner”, “tramp stamp” and “black clothing”) and her very soon to be ex-boyfriend, Jason, breaking up. Then we meet Rachel’s dad, Frank. During their conversation, we establish that Rachel is “an adult” and that she is also grounded and unable to go out at night, even though her dad will be away all weekend. Obviously, like any normal 18 year old, she obeys. He also tells her that a new employee will be arriving to stay in their guest house. Also her mother is dead.
The new employee is Amy, a fresh-faced college grad who is new to Los Angeles. She’s got a job with Frank, Rachel’s super rich dad who does something and wants Rachel to follow in his footsteps and go to business school. Rachel is an aspiring songwriter. Amy, Frank’s new employee and recent college grad, agrees that business school sounds like a drag.
Since she’s grounded, Rachel spends her evening watching lesbian spanking porn and masturbating. Amy gets bored and decides to hang with the boss’ daughter, but instead ends up listening to her boss’ daughter have an orgasm and then running back to the guest house.
This is no will-they-won’t-they plot. It is clear from the start that they will sleep together. What may or may not be surprising is that they also fall in love. Since none of the characters in this film have consistent personalities (other than “8 Track Guy”, but he only has one line), it’s hard to see what they love so much about each other, but they do, so we’ll run with that.
They have sex on the bed, shower and in the hot tub. Like all women in American films, they replace their (matching) bras and panties after having sex. When they’re in the hot tub, Jason returns, looking for the mobile phone that, yes, Rachel did actually steal from him. Amy then calls him a pussy for not beating her up. Apparently, a bigger man would have.
At this point, I was praying for more giggling, glamorous L.A. shopping montages and acoustic guitar nights.
The big twist happens when Frank, Rachel’s dad, arrives home and it’s revealed that he had already boned Amy before she moved to LA. In fairness to Rachel, she’s disgusted, because she’s just spent the weekend having sex with her father’s sloppy seconds.
The creepiest thing is at the end when brunette Amy bleaches her hair and starts looking like Rachel’s dead mom. Also, that’s when Rachel decides to take Amy back. Maybe because looking like her mom makes it ok that she had sex with her dad. I don’t know. I don’t want to know. All I want right now is some whiskey.
The Guest House is available on DVD from June 18, 2012.