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"Lighten up, John. It's a party!"
-- Warwick Wilson

The Perfect Host is a 2011 comedic thriller directed by Nick Tomnay that centers around one man's captivity at the hands of an off-kilter host. After John Taylor (Clayne Crawford) steals $300,000 from a bank and the police catch onto his trail, he cons his way into a random home inhabited by a man named Warwick Wilson (David Hyde Pierce). While things start out cordial, a radio report forces John's hand as he admits to his criminal activity. He starts to take advantage of Warwick's hospitality, but as he continues to drink the wine his host has offered, John finds himself becoming groggy. Ultimately, Warwick turns the tables on his captor and becomes to torture him both physically and psychologically, all during his previously-planned dinner party. What's strange, however, is that John is unable to see the guests, and he soon realizes that Warwick has imagined his friends despite continuing to interact with them.

To be honest, the sole reason I had any desire to see this film was the inclusion of David Hyde Pierce. As a huge fan of the television series "Frasier" (on which Pierce starred), I was interested to see him in an actual feature film, especially when it seemed like he'd be breaking far from the character he portrayed on the show. It also looked to be a rather comical film that bordered on having some decent scenes of suspense. A comedic thriller, if you will. It's a rare genre, but when it's done correctly, the final result can be something truly fantastic.

That being said, I can't quite say I was entirely impressed. Well, I shouldn't quite say that, I guess. For the first hour or so of the film, it worked rather well. The screenplay was compelling, and it continually kept you guessing as to what Warwick's true intentions might be. However, as the film passes the hour mark, things start to get a little convoluted. Even at its best, there are moments that are going to force you to scratch your head in bewilderment, but the final twenty minutes or so just didn't seem like they really fit with the tone of the rest of the film. While it doesn't make the film any more terrible, I just thought it was an odd way to finish the film.

The acting definitely makes up for the holes in the screenplay, however. Pierce is a comedic revelation who delves into the creepy time and time again, proving to be very effective in the antagonist's role. I can't think of another actor who would have been able to pull off the role as effectively. His particular style breathes life into the character, and he's quite the character to watch. Crawford is decent as the film's other lead, and he complements Pierce's manic energy quite well. We also get a couple of decent supporting performances from the likes of Nathaniel Parker and Megahn Perry. But this film is truly Pierce's vehicle, and it should be treated as such.

Ultimately, The Perfect Host isn't quite the movie I expected it to be. The screenplay keeps it down just a little bit, but the overall enjoyability is salvaged by David Hyde Pierce's lead performance. If you take him out of the film, I'm not sure whether I'd be able to recommend this one at all, but with his presence, there's definitely enough merit to make watching the movie worthwhile.

Movie Review Summary
Grade: B-
1 Thumb Up

2011, Clayne Crawford, comedy, David Hyde Pierce, life, Megahn Perry, movie review, Nathaniel Parker, Nick Tomnay, Perfect Host, and more:

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