The Perfect Host Reviews
Okay, so I realise the character wasn't actually David Hyde Pierce's Frasier alter ego - but for sure there were similarities. The bit with him compulsively scrubbing the blood off the floor gave me quite a laugh.
On the surface he plays a sophisticated, wine drinking, mild mannered single man who likes to host dinner parties.
But all is not as it seems as one young criminal discovers when he chooses the wrong man to scam.
This is nowhere near as gory as you might expect, and actually it's pretty tame by the end, but I did like it, and it was an original idea. David Hyde Pierce does pull this character off disturbingly well.
Good Film! I like alot the element of surprise the director brought to this film which made it unseemly so darn good wickedly fun and entertaining. The Perfect Host is not a horror film, although it's easy to see how it could have been made as one, but a psychological, cat and mouse thriller of tables (dining tables) turning and being turned as small time hood meets major lunatic! This is typically a film to watch once and never again since it isn't one that you'll always remember but it has a kind of devilish goodness to it. Enjoy!
Warwick Wilson is the consummate host. He carefully prepares for a dinner party, the table impeccably set and the duck perfectly timed for 8:30 p.m. John Taylor is a career criminal. He's just robbed a bank and needs to get off the streets. He finds himself on Warwick's doorstep posing as a friend of a friend, new to Los Angeles, who's been mugged and lost his luggage. As the wine flows and the evening progresses, we become deeply intertwined in the lives of these two men and discover just how deceiving appearances can be. With outstanding performances by David Hyde Pierce and Clayne Crawford, cowriter/director Nick Tomnay takes us on a suspense-filled ride where nothing is as it seems. 'The Perfect Host' is a slippery psychological thriller that exposes true human nature and reveals just how far we're willing to go to satisfy our needs.
Twist after twist after twist...way too many to take the movie seriously.
"Dinner Parties Are A Dying Art."
I'm going to get the little praise I have for The Perfect Host out of the way early. Going into this I didn't expect David Hyde Pierce to be able to pull it off. He did though; he was excellent. He is most famous for his role as Niles on the television show Frasier. Here he does deliver one of the weirder performances you'll ever watch and he is a lot of fun to watch. He saves this movie from being a total disaster and makes it watchable when it really shouldn't be.
So now with that out of the way, I can say what I really think of this movie. It sucks. Plain and simple; it's awful. Pierce's performance can't save a movie that starts at stupid progresses to moronic and ends with a conclusion that is lacks any common sense at all. The movie starts this downfall with a scene that I thought would be the stupidest part of the movie. But shit, it just keeps getting stupider when you think it can't get any worse. Plot twist after fucking plot twist lead this into the depths of hell when it comes to storytelling.
It's funny that I hate this as much as I do because even with how much I disliked what I was watching, it was still easy to watch and I found the hour and a half run to fly by. I was actually entertained with how the movie progressed and managed to one up itself in the dumb department at every turn.
Honestly I have no idea what this movie was or how to classify it. It's definitely not a horror film. I wouldn't go as far as to say it's particularly thrilling. It's funny, but funny bad, not funny like it's a comedy. It's a strange film that is unlike anything you'll ever see.
"The Perfect Host" gets off to a promising start with the robbery being emblematic of a truly bad day.("Paper or plastic?") However, the movie disastrously veers off track with its game playing, just as suspense may be building and information revealed about the various characters.(For the record, it is always hard to know how much to care about a character when there is so little known about him.) Going forward, the movie zigs where it should zag and gets perilously close the edge, becoming almost too implausible for words. And it would have been much creepier if John had been drugged/tied up at an actual dinner party. However, David Hyde Pierce does have some nice dance moves.
The premise is simple enough. John Taylor (Clayne Crawford) is a fugitive on the run, for reasons that are explained during the course of the film. Trying to find a place to lay low, he ends up at the home of Warwick Wilson (David Hyde Pierce), claiming to have a mutual friend. Warwick is a gracious host, concerned only that this uninvited guest might disrupt his dinner party. Eventually, John's identity is revealed to Warwick, and that's where things start to get odd.
The less you know about the plot of this movie the more enjoyment you'll get from it. Even the trailer, while still spoiling some surprises, manages to hide the more sinister elements of the film. The story is strange and unpredictable, but it also has some flaws that I could not ignore.
This is what I like to call a "sandwich movie." A sandwich movie can be one of two things: a film with a strong beginning and ending but a poor middle; or a film with a poor beginning and ending, but a strong middle. The Perfect Host is the latter of the two. Until John arrives at Warwick's home, the film feels sluggish. There are several scenes that go on for far too long and serve little to no purpose, with meandering (and sometimes self-indulgent) dialogue. There is for example a scene where John goes into a convenience store to get cleaning supplies for his bleeding foot. The function of this scene only serves to show that the security cameras saw John exit, and he was unsuccessful in getting the supplies. This could have been done in under a minute, but it takes over 5 minutes to get through, and feels entirely unnecessary and little more than padding for the films short 90 minute runtime.
Then there's the ending, and that's where things really fell apart for me. The focus of the film shifts at the end, and adds in plot twists that were not only unnecessary, but wholly uninteresting. This is where the film starts to explore why John was on the run, and frankly I simply didn't care. The reasons why and how John ended up at Warwick's house were not important details, and should never have been the focus. However, the time that John spends in Warwick's house; that is where the film shines.
If I had to give this film a genre classification, I would call it a classy thriller. Most thrillers go for gritty, dirty, and sometimes downright unpleasant. This film tries to be upscale and classy, while still having the undeniable marks of a thriller. Even when horrible and disturbing things are happening on screen, they are displayed with grace and civility, often accompanied by classical music in the background. It's delightfully bizarre, and wildly original, and made the whole experience entirely unpredictable.
The success of the film is in no small part due to the performance by David Hyde Pierce. I haven't seen too much of Hyde Pierce's career (I could never really get interested in Fraiser), but I can still say this is a very new direction for him. Whenever he is on screen, he demands your attention, and it's no big shock that the films poorest moments are those where he is absent. Where the pacing and writing of the film falter, he manages to shine and save the whole production. He completely loses himself in the complex and often outright confusing character of Warwick.
This isn't a great film, and oftentimes it's not even a good film. But when it is good, it's really good. I really wish this film had been better than the product we ended up with, but that doesn't mean it's not an original, unpredictable, and strangely enjoyable product that is worthy of your attention. If you're a fan of Hyde Pierce, or you just want to try something different, then it's worth your attention.
Directed by: Nick Tomnay
Screenplay by: Nick Tomnay, Krishna Jones
Starring: David Hyde Pierce, Clayne Crawford
Pros: An almost award worthy performance from Hyde Pierce
Cons: A beginning that feels sluggish and an ending that feels unnecessary
Rated: R for multiple f-bombs, some sexual references, and several scenes of blood, terror, and torture
Should You See it?: It's not a perfect film, but it's worth checking out for its originality and wonderful lead performance
"The Perfect Host" is like the work of a fine artist still in development. Its premise shows promise; as does the influence that it took from many films before it. I can't say it all comes into place to make a successful debut feature for its director, Nick Tomnay, but before you just say "no", there are some things, that I'd like to address; which might make you want to reconsider skipping this uneven but slightly engaging dark comedy-thriller. It's a mess, without-a-doubt, but there are plenty of redeeming factors to at least keep it on the good side of decency.
Plenty of people are going to hate this movie. That's what I predict, and I can't blame them. It isn't particularly well-written, it isn't high budget enough to have the actors that you might want to see in the roles presented here, and the tone just isn't to everyone's liking. No doubt, a movie like this one has been made before, and made better; but I was appreciative of the flick's ability to at least deliver some satisfactory morsels, if nothing more. Overall, it's a forgettable but suitably unsettling little movie that is worth seeing if only for the sake of seeing it; since this is a movie that asks to merely exist and doesn't quite get off so easily with its one wish.
The film studies the lives of two men who are seemingly different, but by the end of the film, we are convinced that they're all too alike in both personality and wit. One of these two fine men is John Taylor (Clayne Crawford); an on-the-run fugitive who is shot, robbed, and desperately walking the streets waiting for someone to take him in; allowing him time to think and finally, take action. He tries a few doors until he arrives at one that just kind of seems "right". The person living in the house is Warwick (David Hyde Pierce), an ominous man living alone; claiming to be making preparations for a dinner party he is hosting that night. He is initially kind to John; and the criminal (this is John's only current occupation) treats him with equal respect. However, it becomes apparent that Warwick is preparing for something much bigger; perhaps much different. He encourages John to drink as much wine as he possibly can, and before long; Warwick has John tangled in his dark web of desires and deception.
John is exactly the man we expect him to be for most of the film, while Warwick reveals a much darker, possibly emotionally disturbed being. I'd be more than happy to buy into these characters and invest in the struggles that they are each forced to participate in, but the film makes no attempt to humanize or narratively build on either of the two. The film isn't too good when it comes to plotting; but to call it poorly written would be harsh and untrue criticism. There's some good dialogue that goes on here; especially when it's delivered by Pierce, who delivers some of his best work as Warwick. I won't spoil too much, since you might still be curious about "The Perfect Host" in spite of anything I might have said about it, just don't go in expecting a masterpiece. The film does, however, deliver when it comes to snappy dialogue and clever one-liners; which was enough for me, until the major, distracting flaws began to kick in.
I suppose I was thoroughly enjoying myself; with the appropriately whacky and even surreal dinner sequences taking affect; and Warwick's hidden madness rearing its ugly head towards the audience. However, the film makes a very big mistake by adding in an unnecessary and uninvolving third act; which comes off as just-plain-stupid. It tries one-too-many twists, and it ends on such an anticlimactic, predictable, and overall lame note that it almost ruined the entire film for me. But then, I reflected; I went back. It was then that I realized just how entertaining "The Perfect Host" was before all this derivative shit happened; and this is why I gave it the rating that I did. I don't recommend the film, per se, but like I said; it's got some redeeming qualities worth looking into as long as you have some time to waste. Otherwise, there are better films to watch; tickets and even rental fees are not always cheap. If you can get a hold of this one for free (rental-wise, like I did), then great; you haven't wasted anything. Some of you might even like it more than I did, while others will be left scratching their heads. I like what this film had going for it; but I don't necessarily like films that feel as unfinished and unpolished as this one. However, I do hope that Tomnay goes on and makes better movies. He has the potential to do so. This was just his first film; think of what he can do to improve his already competent technique. I've honestly seen worse independent debut pictures. So this one isn't all that bad.
1. David Hyde Pierce's performance was not ONCE funny, scary, or unique. This just wasn't his role. You may think it's cool because on Fraiser he played a sort of weakling, tidy, well-mannered sort of person, but my god he was just awful. It feels like he attempts to pull a Christian Bale in "American Psycho" but fails miserably.
2. The direction. My god.. AWFUL. They keep banging us over the head on what's real and what isn't. They could have done this to introduce it for the first 10 minutes, but no, we needed it for the entire film. It gets tiring and old, and shows how gimmicky this film is. It's trying to be many things and it fails in just about every one of them. I don't want to actually go into detail with this, because I suppose it can be a spoiler for some. (Not that you'll care)
3. Rest assured, it is one of those films where you'll be screaming at the characters on how unbelievably dumb they are. I know you hoped it wouldn't be, but come on, it's a modern horror/thriller flick. The script manages to do a great job of ruining the whole premise by the end of this film, turning a some-what unique premise to unbelievably dumb. There is a huge "really? -_-" moment towards the end that further validates the huge dump this film will take on your chest.
4. Am I supposed to be scared? I could literally beat the living crap out of David Hyde Pierce with both hands tied behind my back. He's weird, I suppose, but there's a difference between weird and psychotic. It doesn't help the fact that he seems like a normal person in his day life, which.. is sort of like putting on an act for the screen.
So what's the point? I wouldn't even call it entertaining. It's not scary. I wasn't on the edge of my seat. I didn't laugh once. I didn't care about any of the characters. I was bored. For what could have been a unique comedy/horror mash-up, turns to be a sad disappointment because the script, the actors, and the direction. Yes, pretty much everything.