Movie Review Monday: The Perfect Host

Mike Finkelstein is having a dinner party.  His friends are very strange, and he has an affinity for makeup.  You don’t want to be around when everything goes down.  Here is his review for “The Perfect Host”.

PLOT: John Taylor (Clayne Crawford) is a career criminal on the run after his most recent bank robbery.  When he tries to hide out at the house of Warwick Wilson (David Hyde Pierce), a seemingly gentle soul, it turns out he gets a lot more than he bargained for.

Check out the trailer:

MIKE’S REVIEW:  After watching the above trailer for THE PERFECT HOST the first time, I was…very intrigued.

Okay…let’s be honest…I was going “What the F*** was that?!?”

The film looked completely warped and twisted, David Hyde Pearce is in a role on the opposite side of the spectrum of Niles Crane and Broadway, and you have no idea where the hell everything could go.  Yay, right?  If only the speeding train didn’t have to fly off the tracks…

THE PERFECT HOST starts out on a beautiful high note.  Within the opening credits, we feel the ooze of Hitchcock in the shots and title cards, while the Eagles of Death Metal’s “Wannabe in LA” gives it that little extra flavoring of today.  John is desperately trying to find a safe haven, and we are hanging on a wire as we try to figure out how to feel toward him.  Then we meet Warwick, and we decide all we want is this horrible criminal to leave without causing any harm to our nice geeky friend who’s having a dinner party.

Heh…if only…

As you saw above, all hell breaks loose.  Warwick is absolutely insane, and suddenly, we just want this horrible, crazy freak of a person to not cause any harm to our nice little criminal friend with a heart.  Bit of a twist, no?

For the first two thirds of the film, this insecurity of character is what drives us forward.  We have no idea where anything is going or what either of these two men is capable of, and the tension builds.  David Hyde Pierce is cruel, perverted, and just plain malicious as Warwick.  (At one point, he does something concerning a “piece of ass” that I never thought I’d ever see Niles Crane do…)  He proved with this role that he could play against type wonderfully, and I hope we get to see some other sides of him soon.  At the same time, Clayne Crawford plays the multi-layered John Taylor with vigor.  At first, he is scum to us, yet slowly, he turns to our golden boy, and you could see his conflicted mind moving rapidly the whole time.

With all that said, where there are two thirds, there has to be a final third, and that is where everything goes wrong.  Suddenly, the twists and turns become manic and overused.  Around every corner, there is a new detail that wasn’t revealed two minutes earlier, and it becomes more and more ridiculous to the point where you want to throw your metaphorical towel into the ring and yell “I give up!”  By the end of the film, you sadly almost feel like you’re watching a completely different movie. The characters don’t resemble themselves (especially Warwick), and we are in a different world entirely.

This is Nick Tomney’s first feature film, based on his short, “The Host.”  As a director, he does a pretty damn good job of putting his story together here, however, as a writer, he just tried too hard to push the limits.  I’m very curious how he left the audience with the short.  Was the mess of a final third also there?  Was there a different ending entirely?  Did it play better?  While I have to give him a lot of credit for both writing and directing, I feel like with a little more structure and another direction at the end, this could have been a psychological thriller cult classic.

THE PERFECT HOST starts off as one of the most original and intriguing films I’ve seen in a while.  David Hyde Pierce and Clayne Crawford play a constant game of wolf and sheep, and every second, the roles reverse.  Nick Tomney’s first feature could have been a cult classic, if only he hadn’t tried so hard to outdo himself in the end.  Instead, the film in my mind leaves the memory of a basic thriller that had so much potential for more.

Although, I have to admit the last shot we see of Warwick is pretty badass…

GRADE: B

Mike’s LIKES:

1) DAVID HYDE PIERCE: The man plays a role on the opposite side of the spectrum from Niles Crane, and does it beautifully.  He is malicious and evil without Daphne, and I’m very impressed.

2) HITCHCOCK VIBES: Tomney has Hitchcock shining through during the first hour of the film.  Put it in black and white, and on the shelf next to something starring Cary Grant or Jimmy Stewart.

Mike’s DISLIKES:

1) FLIES OFF THE RAILS IN THE THIRD ACT:  I don’t know what happened, but in the final act, we get thrown for a loop, into a world that only vaguely resembles everything we’ve seen before it.  So disappointing to see a house of cards fall apart like that.

EXTRA FACTS:

1) The tattoo on John’s hand contains three Hebrew letters: the initials for “Ura Riva Yerivi”, which means absolute certainty.

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