THE PERFECT HOST is a fantastically twisted little film. It’s one of those films I love; a character piece that could just as well be a play as it is a movie since most of the action takes place in one central location. But that’s not the main reason I love this film. It’s solely because of strength of the two lead performances; David Hyde Pierce’s Warwick and Clayne Crawford’s John. There’s a specific scene in the middle of the film where Warwick shows John a home movie that not only is bone-chilling, but it also highlights the skill of these two actors; Pierce reacting with childish glee while Crawford reacting with sheer horror in his eyes. At this moment in the film, it not only signifies the turning point of the movie, but it also shows how different and how talented these two actors really are.
Those of you only familiar with David Hyde Pierce from his role as Frasier Crane’s uppity brother Niles from the sitcom FRASIER are in for a shock when they watch this film. Pierce’s character starts out to be very similar to Niles, but soon, the crazy starts and it’s apparent that Warwick and Niles are completely different characters. Pierce plays Warwick with full conviction that results in moments both humorous and utterly frightening. The way Pierce switches from pleasant host to raving madman shows a talent I didn’t know the actor possessed. After seeing this film, you’ll never look at Pierce the same way again.
Clayne Crawford, the con man who happens into Warwick’s life offers up an impressive performance as well, matching wits with Pierce’s Warwick character. The role requires quite a range of emotion (from complete control to utter desperation) and Crawford handles it all gracefully. Though he might be written off as another pretty boy actor, Crawford shows a nice combination of charm and threat that reminds me a lot of Stephen Dorff.
Director / writer Nick Tomnay plays this story out magnificently. I hate to give anything away, but it has to be noted how many times characters in this film switch roles from predator to prey. This is illustrated right off the bat as John, after robbing a bank, walks into a convenience store just to be the victim of a robbery himself. Later the roles of aggressor and victim are muddled all over again once John tries to con his way into the home of Warwick, first out of desperation (John hurts his foot in the robbery and needs aid), but then out of the possibility of robbing Warwick as well. Things get nuts when Warwick shows his true colors and it becomes apparent very quick that John had stumbled into the wrong house.
Part dark comedy, part twisted thriller, part subtle horror; THE PERFECT HOST offers up true chilling moments along with some laugh out loud scenes and twists you definitely will never see coming. THE PERFECT HOST twists and turns into itself so many times, you’ll be left you’re your head reeling. I never thought I’d see David Hyde Pierce in such a light and you won’t be able to predict the horrors and chills you’ll experience watching this film.