In The Guest (2014), a photo proved that Caleb and David were some sort of comrades during their service with the US armed forces, so it made sense that Caleb's family would welcome David. However, why did David need to find a hiding place in this particular manner?

Since David is so paranoid about his identity, why did he choose this complicated infiltration plan where he would be surrounded regularly by people who could (and did) find out who he really was? Why did he take seemingly unnecessary steps such as the murders of the gun sellers and the colleagues of Caleb's dad? Why didn't he just stay in a motel and interact with/rob/kill random people?

I enjoyed the film but am having a hard time understanding a key premise. Thank you.

  • No one mentioned the knife that supposedly killed him was thhe butterfly he gave to the kid. Fake knife maybe? Easy way out without killing the kids? Butterfly would be perfect for retractable blade, space in the handle for it.
    – user26061
    Sep 19, 2015 at 5:27

5 Answers 5


Because of his promise to Caleb and because he genuinely cared for the family.

I don't think David lied with all the talk about Caleb being his friend and he swearing to him to visit his family (he was on the photo afterall). Maybe he wanted to always stay for longer or maybe he really only wanted to stay for short. In fact the phone call he did might really have been the surgeon he wanted to visit right after checking by Caleb's family shortly, trying to start a new life just after that. But the family was more than happy to have him stay, having found somewhat of a replacement son in him.

And he wanted to genuinely help the Petersons, on the one hand because he felt responsible to take care of his late comrade's family, and on the other hand maybe because he seemed to grow more and more attached to them. But well, David being the quite deranged person he is, his means of helping the family were rather extreme, but they were always supposedly in their best interests, I think, from beating up Luke's bullies, getting Spencer's boss out of the way for Spencer's promotion and freeing Anna from her lazy-ass and unhealthy boyfriend (and he had to murder the gun sellers because they could implicate him easily, I guess). According to David (and he has no reason to lie to Mrs. Peterson right before killing her):

I wanted to help. I considered it my mission to assist you all while I was here. There were just too many complications.

He wasn't so paranoid about his identity until it started to crumble. Afterall, the Petersons didn't have much reason to blow his identity, for all they knew he was a former comrade of Caleb, and I guess that much was pretty true. It was only once he realized that his cover had been blown that he started to kill everyone, including the Petersons, since that was part of his mental programming, as Major Carver explains it:

David has neurological conditioning Miss Peterson, designed to protect both him and the experiment. If he feels like his identity may be compromised, he's programmed to clean up all loose ends. I doubt he could stop himself now even if he wanted to.

And even though he ultimately can't fight his own nature, we can see a bit of remorse in him when he apologizes to Laura and Spencer for killing them and when he tries to comfort Luke after he stabbed David, saying

You did the right thing, I don't blame you. Don't feel bad.

  • Nice interpretation i must say.
    – Ankit Sharma
    Oct 6, 2015 at 7:33
  • In short, his plan wasn't to hide with the Petersons or harm them but to help them incidentally while running. Only when this came into conflict with his escape did he switch from helping them to cleaning up the evidence.
    – matt_black
    Mar 13, 2018 at 14:47

There are a couple of obvious signs that david is actually an android/robot of some sort:

  1. He doesn't need much sleep.
  2. Alcohol and drugs seem to have no effect on him.
  3. He was able to consume that 'very spicy' drink at the bar scene without even flinching.
  4. He got perfect aim! He needs only 1 or 2 shots to take out mercs in full body armor.
  5. During the sex scene, the girl can't get him hard at first. Then he jumps on her and suddenly he's hard as if he just turned on 'pleasure bot mode'.
  6. He does the 'terminator thumb up' when he supposedly dies at the end (perhaps a homage to T:2)
  7. He survives severe injuries at the end.
  8. His name is 'David'. (Used in a few other prominent AI movies.)

So maybe he's an android/robot version of one of Calebs friends (both experimented on) and his promise to david still lingers somewhere in his head between all the 'conditioning' done to his brain.

  • Noe of these unambiguously point to him being a robot. And he bleeds when injured and has to take action to stop further bleeding. Maybe he has enhanced ability to take damage, but he doesn't look like a robot.
    – matt_black
    Mar 13, 2018 at 14:39
  • @matt_black And how about that one scene from the beginning of the film where David sits on the bed with eyes opened and very 'disabled' face? That could imo suggest that he was actually android of some sort... or maybe it was the original intention of the makers to make it look like he's sort of a robot, but without a way to prove it...
    – FanaticD
    Nov 12, 2018 at 15:21
  • @FanaticD Why does this point towards him being a robot rather than being someone who has been psychologically programmed to behave in certain ways (which is far more consistent with the other facts in the movie)?
    – matt_black
    Nov 12, 2018 at 15:24
  • @matt_black I feel like people tend to close their eyes when resting, or at least blink, due to physiological reasons like preventing globes from drying out?
    – FanaticD
    Nov 12, 2018 at 15:34
  • @FanaticD but he is never presented as a normal person. He is clearly very special and has many very abnormal characteristics due to his programming. This is a far more parsimonious explanation for his characteristics than him being a robot.
    – matt_black
    Nov 12, 2018 at 15:41

I believe it was because David actually was Caleb, his identity erased as part of the program and face reconstructed to look like a former squad mate. He felt the subconcious need to return home and help his family (who I'm sure he didn't conciously realize were his family) This makes the most sense to me, especially when he gives Luke a thumbs up in the final scene.

  • 2
    Any source to support your claim, i mean it never made clear in the film this way.
    – Ankit Sharma
    Feb 6, 2015 at 19:18
  • I don't think there is any evidence in the movie to support this, and there's a photo of David and Caleb together in the movie which would seem to disprove it, but the same thought crossed my mind as a possible explanation.
    – Dan C
    Mar 10, 2015 at 22:00
  • Fine as a wild speculation, but there is no evidence at all to hint at this in the movie and several pieces of evidence against. So a totally unnecessary idea.
    – matt_black
    Mar 13, 2018 at 14:40

I don't see how the plot of the movie is so hard to understand. The Army guy explained to Anna in the car why David would have those special abilities. He clearly states that David was experimented on and they turned him into some sort of super soldier. After that David escaped but they assumed he was dead after finding the burned bodies and after that, the trail on him was cold until Anna called them.

I think that David was really Caleb's friend before he was experimented on and that he did promise to visit his family but he was chosen instead for the experiment.

David escaped to visit the family before having the plan to get out of town to meet the plastic surgeon. I feel like he also had a plan to help the family like he had promised and the things he did were just the ways he knew how to survive and protect. He beat up the bullies to protect the son, he framed Anna's bf after she told him, he killed the dad's rival so that he could get a promotion all to help the family.

I do think that by him being trained as a soldier when he was compromised he had no choice but to get rid of the people who put him in the compromising situation, as that's probably what he was programmed to do. I don't think he had any intentions of ever hurting the family until Anna started to snoop.


My theory on the whole David/Caleb thing is that he was actually Caleb but he had the plastic surgeon alter his face to look like a squad mate but whilst pretending to be David as from when Anna enquired to the Army, the profile picture of David was entirely different. This couldve been a double red herring on his part; fake his own death but act under his squadmates name as to lead them in a different direction. If they knew he (Caleb) survived the most probable place he'd go first would be his hometown to his family.

Psychologically that is sound, they conditioned them to cover their identities, whenever Carver confronted David he probably reasoned that he could've altered his appearance and therefore was not surprised when he looked different but never suspected he could have been Caleb which is why he said anything to Anna. Also, need to know basis.

  • Another piece of speculation that ignores the actual evidence in the movie. David calls a plastic surgeon but hasn't met him yet. Which seems entirely redundant if he has already had plastic surgery. Worse, looking like a squad mate doesn't solve any problem as the whole squad are likely in the experiment and will be terminated if they escape.
    – matt_black
    Mar 13, 2018 at 14:44

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .