I'm being too easy on Guest, and that's biased of me. It's not a good film. It reaveals just how structurally formulaic he is: there's a grand performance to be had and all these small time losers are vying for attention from it. Not that that wasn't obvious before, but when you actually remove a single element from it (it's not a mockumentary), the redundancy is somehow worsened.
Too preachy to be perfect, but bold impressionism of hood life that leans on empathy most of the way through. The angry conclusion is easy to misread and generates loads of controversy, which is exactly how it's intended, reflecting the anger of an oppressed community without rationality. There are times it's so incredibly stagey, you wonder if it's meant to soften the effect just slightly. Lee might be suggesting that peacekeeping amongst the gentrified hood is all just a stage act. Regardless of his intent, the ending is incredibly powerful, enraging, and provocative; Lee is the provocateur he intends to be.
Outside of lingering annoyances, Cassavetes finds behavioral truth that dictates story. Though I believe in similar means to achieving a result, I disagree with his too loose approach, which amounts to people simply acting weird or loud on screen. There are times we really connect to empathy-worthy emotions, and other times it's a dramatic equivalent to mindless Hollywood action for the sake of action, completely losing my attention.
With an adapted Halloween score, a ghost ship, dead pirates moving like creepy actors at a haunted house attraction, and the scream queen mother/daughter duo of Janet Leigh and Jamie Lee Curtis, this horror show, at the very least, is a lot of fun.