The Perfect Host (2011)
In this charming psychological thriller, writer/director Nick Tomnay perfects his 2001 short “The Host” to create a brilliant debut film. David Hyde Pierce stars as the title character, the inviting, tidy, delightfully deceiving Warwick Wilson, who serves as a gracious host to a formal dinner party for his friends. Pierce is brilliant in a witty, pretentious performance, displaying a charm reminiscent of his character on “Frasier” for over a decade, Dr. Niles Crane.
His not-so-gracious guest? Clayne Crawford, who plays John Taylor, a conniving burglar who lies his way into Warwick’s party. Soon, we discover a startling leader in this pleasant tango of wits. What ensues is an amusing, sometimes comical game of mental chess that leads to a complex and unexpected conclusion.
Filled with unpredictable, if unnecessary, twists and turns, the beauty of The Perfect Host is lost somewhere in its complexity. The heart-breaking love story of John and his girlfriend (played beautifully by Meghan Perry) lies deep within the snaky design of the plot, only barely unearthed by the writer and director.
Pierce as the unorthodox host
The film’s low budget (a mere $1 million) is exemplified in its unconventional, occasionally campy, original soundtrack. Despite its financial lacks, however, The Perfect Host displays seamless editing, a feature for which you will be all the more appreciative once you see the film. The acting is splendid—watching Pierce spar with Crawford made The Perfect Host a desired piece of my film collection—and the script is marvelous.
While the film is billed as part comedy, don’t get the wrong impression. Much the same way as Fargo defied comedy, The Perfect Host displays thrilling, suspenseful events in a light, unconventional way. While this may induce a pithy chuckle, the events are complex, meditative, and captivating. The movie succeeds, but not in its ability to make the viewer laugh.
You can’t argue with this exhilarating psychological (and boy is it psychological) thriller. The Perfect Host really is “the host with the most.”
While the special features are pathetic, The Perfect Host is on DVD and Blu-ray.