Almost each and every time I’ve ever watched a movie with the word perfect in the title I’ve come away feeling the film couldn’t be further away from being described as such. I realize of course that the title is not describing its own quality as a movie, but more a means at conveying the type of character the film is based ob, which I still feel doesn’t fully hit its mark. THE PERFECT HOST was a frustrating overall experience that features a very good performance by David Hyde Pierce but the film is a very mixed bag of decent tension, quirky humor and an excess of twists.
Things just are not going well for John Taylor (Clayne Crawford) and they keep getting worse. From the start of the film we meet John as he’s just completed a bank robbery and has sustained an injury of some sort. He ditches the car he used before the robbery and his disguise and finds his way to a convenience store for some kind of medical supply where he is mugged by another robber who is holding up the store. From there the police have identified him as the suspect of his previous robbery so he ducks into a rich neighborhood looking for a place to lay low. After being refused by a religious woman he fingers through the mail of her neighbor and finds a postcard that he uses as a way to sneak his way in Warwick Wilson’s (David Hyde Pierce) home as he’s preparing for a dinner party. John believes his troubles are close to being over as he tries to lay low in Warwick’s home but soon finds out that things are only beginning to get even worse.
I am pretty conflicted over how I ultimately come down on THE PERFECT HOST. On one hand I really liked the first half of the film and liked certain aspects of the last half. However, when it comes down to it the last half of the movie is a little too quirky and a little too convoluted. The first half was very straight forward and did a great job at building tension then the twists start coming in rapid succession some clever and others induced eye rolling. THE PERFECT HOST is the film equivalent to a jack in the box- you constantly turn the handle all the while anticipating the toy to spring out but the longer it takes the tension builds but you grow suspicious of just how satisfying the culmination of events will be. The only real difference is this jack in the box pops out spinning a jack in the box of its own over and over and you sit there wondering when it will end.
The deeper into the film you get the less original it feels. The twists do not separate the film enough from other cat and mouse games in films or torture movies especially in recent films like THE LOVED ONES or I SAW THE DEVIL. Having a handful of twists did not make the movie memorable instead it eroded my patience little by little. The progression of events in THE PERFECT HOST begins as a well paced and acted thriller to tense horror thriller to a quirky horror comedy and ending somewhere as a mix of all those aspects just leaves a somewhat unpleasant after taste.
David Hyde Pierce definitely goes down as the most memorable aspect of the movie. He gives a pretty great performance and even after the movie started to sour on me he remained an effective crazed movie villain. There is something very disturbing about a bad guy that is as polite, friendly and likable as Pierce is and when everything comes back around it’s even more disturbing after one of the final twists.
If there’s one theme that sticks with me even if I’m not thrilled with the overall product is that things are never quite as they seem or that appearances can be deceiving. The movie does a lot of things right in this regard but writer director Nick Tomnay just tries to push things a little too far. THE PERFECT HOST is A pretty compelling portrait of severe mental illness or even deranged fetish fulfillment it’s just frustrating that the overall tone also suffers from a multiple personality syndrome.
Should you find yourself bored one night frustrated that you’ve seen all the movies at your local Redbox or Netflix watch instantly queue I can fully support breaking down to watch THE PERFECT HOST. There are a lot of very memorable moments both in tension and even comedic moments plus a very capable and creepy performance by David Hyde Pierce. If the movie catches you at the right moment in the exact mood it calls for then it may more than justify the time it takes to watch. As it stood for me however, it resonates as a passable thriller that just happens to have some very compelling elements.