Dinner parties are a dying art.
The Perfect Host is a psychological thriller, written and directed by Nick Tomnay. The film stars David Hyde Pierce (Frasier TV Series), Clayne Crawford (24 TV Series), Nathaniel Parker (The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader), and Megahn Perry (I Hate My 30’s TV Series), about how a criminal on the run cons his way into a ‘dinner party’ where the host is anything but ordinary.
John Taylor (Clayne Crawford) is a fortunate fool. A career criminal who has just robbed a bank of $300,000, and is in need of a place to hide. Quickly ridding himself of his clever disguise–a mossy black wig and mini Dick Tracy hat–he makes several fleeting exchanges. First, he escapes the robbery on foot, then on a bicycle, and finally in a maroon, 1980’s model Buick–which he eventually had to ditch–fleeing again, limping on foot, and eventually finding himself on the doorstep of an engaging host. After an attempt to enter the home of his neighbor, John peers in the mailbox of one Warwick Wilson and finds a postcard from ‘Julia,’ who is enjoying herself on vacation in Australia. John finds his opportunity to lay-low, and since he now had a ‘mutual acquaintance’ in Julia, decides pay Warwick a visit.
Warwick (David Hyde Pierce) is busy prepping for his dinner guests when an ‘unexpected’ buzz at the door distracts him from his work. When he checks the video display and finds a disheveled John, who uses what he thinks he knows about Julia to get inside Warwick’s home. As John details how he knows of Julia, our gracious host offers John a glass of sedative laden glass of wine, then returns to preparing dinner for his guests. Now here is where the real fun begins.
As John realizes the radio is broadcasting his bank heist, the dinner pleasantries begin to change. John is now drugged and incoherent, passing out to finding himself tied to the chair and positioned at the opposite head of the table, as Warwick and his “guests” are enjoying their meal. However, these aren’t ordinary dinner guests. In between the informal antics of our consummate host, John quickly realizes that he is in danger–or is he?
When you get a film where a pair of twisted characters are in a forced set of circumstances, where one is a convincing con artist and the other a manipulative sociopath, things tend to get out of hand. Both of them attempt to gain the advantage in their challenging situation and the audience is unclear just how the events will play itself out. In The Perfect Host you immediately feel that something sinister is about to happen and just when you think you have it all figured out, you are hit with another vicious, and comedic dark change that you absolutely never see coming.
David Hyde Pierce effortless portrays himself as the rationally challenged, and unpredictable consummate host, and Clayne Crawford excels in his role as the calculating criminal mind. Both are phenomenal and convincingly brilliant in their character roles, as such that the only error I found with this film was that there just wasn’t enough them. You are sidetracked by the actual “events” of John’s bank heist, Warwick’s “guests,” and having to endure the intermittent montages of John’s sympathetic flashbacks eventually became a bit much and only served only as padding for what viewers truly wanted to see–the twisted goings on between John and Warwick. Aside from that, The Perfect Host serves up just the right amount of suspense to keep you glued to your seat for the next bizarre set of psychologically satisfying and the unexpected.