Perfect Host

Party crashing can be dangerous…

The story begins with the aftermath of a robbery.   We see John Taylor (Clayne Crawford) limping – apparently having injured himself during the heist – lugging a gym bag filled with cash.   However, his carefully planned getaway goes awry and he has to abandon his car in a residential neighborhood.  Looking for a place to hide, he knocks on some doors, impersonating an unfortunate mugging victim.  After a few tries, he knocks on Warwick Wilson’s (Pierce) door, who welcomes him in, despite an impending dinner party.  Alas, our bank robber is in for a few surprises.

Despite the unexpected guest, the dinner party is quite a success and goes late into the night, eventually waking the neighbors.   There are fine wines, dancing and unique guests that keep the conversation lively.  As the night proceeds we learn more about both main characters and the plot starts to accelerate, delivering twists and turns with barely a breath in between.

David Hyde Pierce is simply incredible, leaving Dr. Crane far behind.  His rapidly changing displays of fear, passion, joy, lust and anger are a sight to behold.  He carries the entire movie without even the slightest bobble.   Crawford’s role isn’t nearly as demanding, but he holds up nicely against Pierce’s formidable energy.  The four other dinner guests are used to nice effect as well, making for a memorable affair.

Writer/director/editor Nick Tomnay (with co-writer Krishna Jones) is fearless in his first full length feature film, properly classified as a dark comedic thriller and appropriately rated R for violence.  The story strikes a fine balance between gore and humor, and the numerous plot twists are both surprising and believable.  The witty party banter elicits frequent laughter at least from this slightly warped viewer.  Tomnay directs with a confident touch and his editing keeps things tense and quick over the full 93 minute running time.   The music by John Swihart supports the story nicely, never becoming intrusive and culminating in a festive dance number that may well be the highlight of the film.

Originally premiering at Sundance in January 2010, the movie had a limited theatrical release in July 2011 and is now available as a Netflix live streaming option.

Obviously, dark and occasionally gruesome comedies aren’t for everyone, but for fans of this special genre – Dexter fans take note – The Perfect Host is a must see.  Pierce’s performance is unforgettable, the story is wild and fun and the movie delivers plenty of thrills.  Unfortunately, Niles Crane probably wouldn’t approve.

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