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November 17, 2012

The Perfect Host

by Franz Patrick


Perfect Host, The (2010)
★★ / ★★★★

John Taylor (Clayne Crawford) was on the run from robbing a bank. As his face was broadcasted across homes, panic began to set in. With a bit of luck, he looked inside a mailbox and found a postcard signed by Julia who was currently in Australia. John knocked on the door and Julia’s husband, Warwick (David Hyde Pierce), while preparing a gathering with friends, answered. John pretended to know Julia and Warwick welcomed the stranger with suspicion. Although John was a typical criminal, the host was entirely of another breed. The greatest strength of “The Perfect Host,” written and directed by Nick Tomnay, was its constantly evolving storyline. It kept me interested because I didn’t quite know where it was going. On one hand, it worked as a thriller. We knew something wasn’t quite right with Warwick but it was difficult to pinpoint exactly what had driven him to do the things he did. Pierce did a good job moving from one extreme emotion to another. He was creepy yet slightly off from being very amusing. The way his character feigned certain emotions was like watching a possum playing dead. It was unnerving because it was difficult to fathom when he would strike. It also worked as a comedy, baiting uneasy chuckles as the bizarre piled up. Warwick’s so-called friends were colorful, to say the least. Random dance sequences appeared out of the blue. The interruption of tone felt jarring but it worked for itself considering Warwick’s fractured mind. The writer-director wanted us to experience the way the host saw the world and it didn’t always make sense. Less effective were the flashback sequences. Such were designed to make John seem like a good person so the audiences would care about his fate. Looking back in time was unnecessary. I didn’t really want to know about his past because his current situation was so intense. He had a lot to lose and interrupting the interactions between he and Warwick lessened the picture’s dramatic momentum. There were also some details about how the protagonist managed to pull off a bank heist. This, too, didn’t work. There were other ways in which Tomnay could have shown us that John had a sharp intellect. After all, he did manage to outsmart his cunning predator a couple of times. Lastly, the detectives (Nathaniel Parker, Joseph Will) in charge of capturing the bank robber felt like they came from a totally different movie. Every line delivered was transparent. There was nothing interesting about them and how they stumbled upon certain clues. What “The Perfect Host” needed was to focus more on the happenings inside the posh home. A typical criminal was thrown into a ring with the type of criminal that hid behind luxuries and nicely tailored suits. What were their commonalities and differences? Which was the more dangerous of the two? Despite having the opportunity, such questions weren’t explored on a deeper level. I wish it had been more ambitious because it had a lot of things going for it.

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