Netflix Pick: The Perfect Host
Tuesday, January 24, 2012 1 Comment
This week’s Netflix Pick is a movie I’ve been dancing around checking out for a while now. I remember hearing tell of a strange, twisty thriller starring David Hyde Pierce making the film festival rounds a couple of years ago, which piqued my interest for a variety of reasons. I noticed a few months back that it had been added to the illustrious Netflix instant watch catalog, and was flirting with idea of checking it out, despite the mixed reviews I’d seen. For the purposes of my little weekly feature, I decided to finally take the jump. Is “The Perfect Host” worth your hour and a half? Find out after the break!
Oh boy. This is going to be difficult. Not figuring out my opinion, mind you. I can tell you straight away that I had a great time watching this film, and I can tell you why. The usual plot synopsis I give here, however, will have to be pretty bare bones. Therefore, I’ll just let you know that “The Perfect Host” basically tells the story of what happens when a bank robber on the run (played by Clayne Crawford) seeks overnight refuge in the house of an eccentric man (David Hyde Pierce) on the eve of a planned dinner party. Then shit gets bonkers.
You see, this movie takes so many twists and turns that even though half of them are fairly obvious, there are still a whole hell of a lot of them that will take you by surprise. If that sounds appealing, don’t watch any trailers or read up on this movie at all. Just check it out. You will enjoy the utter ridiculousness and audaciousness of the variety of hard lefts this thing takes. The third act of the film is especially ridiculous, lumping twist upon turn like a Coldstone sundae-smith on three kinds of conflicting medication. Some may find this obnoxious; I found it quite entertaining.
Now, none of these ludicrous twists and turns would be worth it if the cast weren’t able to pull it all off. Thankfully, they all handle what’s asked of them perfectly well. Clayne Crawford does a serviceable job as John Taylor, the bank robber whose perspective we follow for most of the film. It’s not an amazing performance, but he acts with an appropriate level of confused menace and con-man charm that makes him oscillate between despicable and weirdly likable. It’s a tough line to walk, and he ultimately pulls it off. Unfortunately for Crawford, his performance pales in comparison to the incredible work of David Hyde Pierce.
For the sake of background, I much enjoyed Pierce’s work on “Frasier.” I do, however, realize that there probably isn’t a lot of overlap in the “Frasier” audience and the readership of this site. Therefore, you may be unfamiliar with this man’s ability to be classy and stuffy and flustered. Throughout the first act of this film, you will get to see him do that. It’s like the David Hyde Pierce greatest hits. Come act two, things start getting dark… really dark. And strange… really strange. It is bizarre and hilarious and disturbing and glorious. If you don’t care about twists and turns and ridiculousness, then I can assure that the film is worth watching for Pierce’s performance alone.
Unfortunately, there isn’t much more to the film beyond Pierce’s fantastic performance and the spiraling-out-of-control plot. Every character besides Warwick (Pierce) is rather boring, and they seem to only develop character traits whenever the story needs them to, simply for the purposes of introducing a new twist. The characters’ actions all make sense, but it’s clear that the film’s chief concern is the twisty nature of the plot.
That said, Warwick is such an absurdly eccentric character that he more than makes up for the film’s flaws. I’ve never seen a character quite like him before, and his dinner party is one of the more unique settings I’ve seen explored in a film. If you enjoy dark, surprising thrillers with a twisted sense of humor, then “The Perfect Host” is an easy recommendation. If you’re just curious what David Hyde Pierce has been up to since “Frasier” ended, the results may disturb you.
I’m serious about the polar bear, by the way. Don’t think I was just trying to throw you off by telling the truth. I wasn’t.