The Perfect Host is a fun little film that will most definitely slip through the cracks and end up as a film discovered on late night IFC years from now. It is a short film-turned-full length feature by director Nick Tomnay that stars David Hyde Pierce and Clayne Crawford opposite each other in a tale that turns the tables on the "bad guy" of the film.
I won't spoil the film for you any more than the trailer does, because the film is a cornucopia of plot twists and it would be unfair to view the film without a clear state of mind. However, if you do not want to know anymore about The Perfect Host other than the stars and director of the film...then, stop reading after this sentence and just know that I do recommend watching the film mostly for the dialogue and Pierce's macabre performance.
The gist of the film involves a bank robber named John (Crawford) on the run and in the need of a quick hideout in which to properly treat his wounded foot and lay low until he can make his quick escape. He seeks refuge at the home of Warwick Wilson (Pierce) who is expecting a big dinner party in a little while. Warwick allows him entry and treats John with a warm hospitality. John soon finds himself dealing with much more than he bargained for and completely underestimates his host. This main revelation is the best part of the film. Pierce does an expert job in breathing a dark and quirky personality into the character of Warwick and it is really fun to watch as he matches wits with John and shows him what true darkness is. I purposely left out the little details that sort of guide you through the film because it is a fun little journey.
The Perfect Host is not a horror film...but, I felt it would've been greater if treated as such. I could've spent the entirity of the film trapped in that whacked out house with everything that was going on. Instead, it felt kind of rushed and a little tame when given the dark potential that the film could've displayed. After you watch the film...try to look back on it and imagine it as a horror film. I guarantee that you, too, will feel like the film had all the ingredients to become a great little experience with Pierce leading the entire thing.
Unfortunately, the film sort of falls flat after daybreak and we start watching what happens when a brilliant short film is adapted for the big screen and filler is needed in order to keep things interesting for the elongated running time. I won't say the film gets bad...but, it does fail to sustain the intensity and the fun that is captured during the scenes that take place the previous night in Warwick's home. It sort of turns into a film about people fucking each other over for the sake of money. Even John's main motivation for robbing the bank is thrown out of the window.
Speaking of John...I liked Clayne Crawford in the film. He's a good solid actor who I'd like to see get more work. Clayne's got one of those faces that you'd swear you've seen a dozen times before. He's charming and brooding at the same time and he delivers his lines in a "just lemme live my fuckin' life" kinda way. He's a great compliment to Pierce's Warwick...especially in the most excruciating scenes where you can definitely read exactly what John's thinking as he stares at Warwick intently. In a low budget affair like this...it's so good to have great acting as the centerpiece to the film.
I did like the ending and felt that it was true to the heart of the film. The Perfect Host works best up until morning comes in the film. I recommend the film for that alone. Everything else is a disappointment and pretty much cheapens the entire effect of the main course of the film. And that's David Hyde Pierce's performance. Director Tomnay should've had more fun with the character of Warwick and utilized Pierce's talents in which to create something much more sinister and memorable. The film had the potential to enter the ranks of American Psycho territory. Instead, it ultimately becomes a decent film full of greater potential.
2.5 out of 5
(Trying out a new rating system)
Thanks for reading,