The Perfect Host is a dark comedy which pits the acting abilities of the two main actors, David Hyde Pierce & Clayne Crawford. The latter plays John Taylor, a criminal & thief who has just robbed a bank of $300,000 with the aid of a bank teller who is also his girlfriend. However he gets his foot injured & cut in the process and is trying to hid from getting caught. An attempt to buy disinfectant from a store is thwarted when the store is robbed at gunpoint and his bottle is broken. As the cops announce his name, description, car make & whereabouts on the radio, a tired & hurt John needs a place to hide. He tries to get into a house by pretending to be a fellow Jehovah’s Witness but is found wanting. He then raids the next door neighbour’s postbox and finds a postcard from a “Julia” in Australia to the owner of the house, Warrick.
Pretending to be a friend of Julia, who was with her in Australia, John cooks up a story of having lost his luggage and then getting mugged and unable to contact his cousin who lives in LA. He needs a place to stay and since Julia mentioned Warrick can he come in and call his cousin and spend sometime recuperating in his big house? Warrick is too much of a gentleman to shun John, even if he is expecting guests for a dinner of roasted duck & veggies. He invites John in and gives him wine to drink. As the awkward small talk proceeds, John manages to chug a lot of the red wine that Warrick serves. The radio announces that the cops are still looking for John Taylor and a babbling Warrick realizes who his unannounced guest really is. Threatening, hitting & bullying Warrick with a knife, John plans to relax and orders his host to call his friends & cancel the dinner party. However the wine affects him and he soon drops off. That’s when the real Warrick steps in.
We find our perfect host is a rambling maniacal pyschopath. He ties up and tortures John completely turning the tables on him. His dinner party is filled with imaginary guests & friends who he has conversations with and he truly is the perfect host. Warrick also has a dark hobby; he ties up his prey and takes photos of them in various stages. He even drugs John and dances with him in an imaginary conga line; in reality it is just the two of them but in Warrick’s head there’s a house full of guests. Warrick even has imaginary sex with one of his friends! Warrick’s nosy neighbour, the Jehovah’s Witness, is suspicious but our dear host convinces her that he just has a too drunk friend who returned from a costume party and needs to sleep it off. This is where the movie looses it’s grip.
Turns out that the injuries & cuts that John has suffered throughout the night at the house is superficial and solely for the perverted pleasure of Warrick and his photo collection. The next morning John wakes up outside in the dumpster and is seen by the neighbour who reports it to the cops. John goes to find his girlfriend who is making off with the cash without her boyfriend. We also find that Warrick is actually a police Lieutenant and is trying to catch the thieves of the bank heist. John makes off with the cash leaving his cheating girlfriend to be caught by two cops while Warrick catches up with John. He takes the bag of cash from John but still gives him some money and tells him to head for Mexico, apparently having become fond of his “victim”.
We also see flashbacks of the bank robbery and the reasons for John wanting to steal the cash – his girlfriend is sick and needs the money for treatment. The case is closed as the cop can’t find John but two months later, one of the detectives find an envelope sent to him with a Mexican postcard and a Polaroid of Warrick and John and he confronts the Lt on it. Warrick tells the detective that it must be a forged one, despite the detective knowing that Polaroids cannot be forged. Despite this Warrick tells him to come over to his home for a dinner party and search his house to quench his curiosity – and we are left with the perfect host waking away home to prepare for his next victim!
Too many plot twists spoil this movie which does have David Hyde Pierce’s brilliant manic acting. He goes all out in this role, thrusting himself into a maniacal, scary and demented mind with just enough humour to balance it out. His skills are still not enough to make this movie a success however! The rest of the cast just can’t keep up in this indie flick. And the script does not do the film much favour. I’d give it a 6 outta 10.