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Why Anna From The Guest Looks So Familiar

Some movies aspire to be high art. Others aim for pulpy, populist entertainment. Sometimes a movie comes along that finds a way to combine those worlds in a truly unique fashion, thus scratching all narrative itches at once. Whether you love his films or not, Quentin Tarantino is the master of such cinematic cross-pollination, judging by his genuinely stunning body of artsy pulp entertainment. Tarantino's filmmaking style has inspired generations of young directors, and it's safe to say that Guest director Adam Wingard counts himself among them.

While Wingard's films have yet to attain the broad viewership enjoyed by Tarantino's work, he's clearly taken a few cues from the master in regards to blending his cinematic savvy with unabashedly lurid, genre-friendly flare. To be fair, most would agree Wingard's films tend to lean a little more giddily into the B-movie aesthetic. The director's obvious penchant for pulp was never more on display than it was in his 2014 thriller The Guest, one of the most underrated action movies of the last decade.

The Guest found Wingard mining the over-the-top energy of '80s and '90s action flicks to craft a chilling, boldly stylized melodrama that feels as period-specific as the overwrought action films that inspired it. The film stars Dan Stevens (Legion) as a disturbed Army vet who — after escaping a dangerous military experiment — infiltrates a grieving family under false pretenses, and proceeds to use his unique skill set to reign bloody terror upon their small town. If you've yet to see it, it's currently available on Netflix

The members of that family will undoubtedly look a bit familiar to most movie lovers. That's especially true of the actor who portrays the eldest daughter Anna. Her name is Maika Monroe, and she's been all over the big screen in the few years since The Guest was released. Here's why Anna from The Guest looks so familiar.

Maika Monroe ran for her life in It Follows

Though Maika Monroe has had an impressive run on the big screen in the years since The Guest hit theaters, there's little question 2014 was a breakout year for the actor. Not only did The Guest prove a minor sensation at the Sundance Film Festival, but the actor had another genre flick making the rounds on the festival circuit that would instantly earn her a spot among the great final girls in horror history. 

That film is the utterly spellbinding supernatural thriller It Follows, in which Monroe portrays a kind young woman who — after a seemingly harmless sexual encounter — finds herself stalked by a malignant viral entity that will stop at nothing to kill her. In a tragic twist of fate, it becomes clear that the one way she can rid herself of her pursuer is to pass the deadly "disease" on to another sexual partner. Yes, It Follows' twisted setup is every bit as thrilling, and patently terrifying as it sounds. And yes, when the film (directed by David Robert Mitchell) was released, it became an instant sensation among horror lovers young and old.  

Maika Monroe delivers a star-making turn as the young woman at the center of the narrative, imbuing the tormented teen with just the right mix of wide-eyed innocence, mosaic emotionalism, and self-preserving cunning. It Follows is a modern horror classic that contains one of the greatest jump scares in cinema history, and it wouldn't have reached such heights without Monroe's chilling performance. 

Maika Monroe fought the invaders in Independence Day: Resurgence

While The Guest and It Follows were very much breakout movies for Monroe, they were also very much independent films. The young starlet's first role in a major studio picture didn't arrive until 2015, when she was cast as Patricia Whitmore in the big-budget tentpole Independence Day: Resurgence.

A nominal sequel to the Will Smith-starring 1996 smash hit, Independence DayResurgence was released 20 years after its predecessor almost to the day. In a clever bit of scripting, it also picked up the action two decades after alien beings originally tried to lay waste to humanity and claim Earth for themselves. After their initial invasion was bravely thwarted, Independence Day: Resurgence found the same nefarious beings trying to take Earth a second time.

While Smith declined to return for the sequelResurgence did claw back a few of its original stars including Bill Pullman, Vivica A. Fox, Judd Hirsch, Brent Spiner, and Robert Loggia. Resurgence also cast a few newcomers, including Monroe in the role of Pullman's grown-up daughter Patricia. Fun fact: the original Patricia was played by a baby-faced Mae Whitman (Arrested Development, Parenthood) in one of her earliest on-screen credits. Per the plot of Resurgence, that little girl grew up to become a fighter pilot who ultimately leads the charge against the vile alien invaders. 

Unfortunately, Independence Day: Resurgence didn't quite have the same cultural impact as the original. In fact, some would say the film failed in every way possible. Even in light of the criticism, Monroe's work remains one of the film's few bright spots.

Maika Monroe saved the day in the 2018 thriller Greta

After appearing in her first legit blockbuster, Maika Monroe almost immediately returned to the indie world that nurtured her early career, and there she's remained. She's turned up in memorable low-budget features like 2017's Bokeh and Hot Summer Nights opposite a pre-breakout Timothee Chalamet. In 2018, Monroe got back to her genre roots, as well, claiming a role in Neil Jordan's underrated thriller Greta.

That move came after Monroe had played the lead in several of her pre-Greta projects. Jordan's film, however, found Monroe stepping into a supporting role opposite Chloë Grace Moretz (KickassLet Me In) and screen legend Isabelle Huppert (The Piano TeacherAmour). For those who haven't seen Greta, the film details the utter madness that permeates the life of Moretz's Frances after she befriends Huppert's titular character, a seemingly innocent, and desperately lonely widow. 

By madness, understand we mean the sort of physical and emotional torture that echoes psychological thrillers like Misery (1990) and Funny Games (1997 or 2007). While Greta is often quite unnerving in its obsessive narrative, the film admittedly never pushes boundaries quite as far as those classic thrillers. It even dares to let its actors have a little fun with its overwrought setup. Huppert, Moretz and Monroe clearly revel in their melodramatic turns.

Maika Monroe ended up on the wrong side of villainy in Villains

A little genre fun was clearly just what the doctor ordered for Maika Monroe, who followed her brilliant supporting turn in Greta by breaking bad in the cleverly titled horror-comedy Villains. Yes, Villains finds Monroe and her co-star, Bill Skarsgård, playing the part of two "bad guys." Unfortunately, the film also finds them running into a pair who are even worse.

Their fateful encounter comes after Monroe and Skarsgård knock over a gas station and hit the road for Florida. Sadly, the daring duo forget to steal some gas before making their escape, which is tragically stalled when their car hits empty mid-getaway. They quickly break into an isolated suburban home after discerning that nobody is home. After grabbing a bite to eat, and ingesting copious amounts of narcotics, the pair are stunned to find a young girl held prisoner in the basement. 

Then they discover her captors: two-faced suburbanites George (Jeffrey Donovan) and Gloria (Kyra Sedgwick). Without spoiling any of the insanity that follows, we can tell you things get twisted quickly in Villains. We can also tell you they do so with a winkingly evil sort of wit that tempers the otherwise gruesome nature of the narrative.

We can't say if Monroe will remain an indie darling or if she intends to return to the world of big studio blockbusters, but either way we're sure her future in the industry is bright.