Nick Tomnay is the perfect host. No really, he is. He lures you in by setting a delightful appetizer, complete with intrigue and a gripping premise. He then serves up the main course, full of suspense, psychological thrills and maniacal behavior. Just when you’re getting ready for dessert he offers a shocking twist, leaving you genuinely surprised. It really is a great meal, despite a few undercooked dishes.
As The Perfect Host opens up, John (Clayne Crawford) is being pursued by the police, he needs to get off the streets and find shelter. Lucky for him, he manages to con his way into the residence of a man named Warwick (David Hyde Pierce). While Warwick is pleased with his new guest at first, he starts to grow suspicious of John’s story. As Warwick throws questions at John, slowly but surely breaking down his ruse, the fugitive gets worried. It’s at this point that he pulls a knife on Warwick and takes him hostage. There’s just one thing that John didn’t account for, Warwick is far more dangerous and resourceful than he seems. As the night progresses, John realizes that it won’t be long before he finds himself on the other side of this metaphorical table.
The Perfect Host manages to take a rather simple premise and do something inventive and refreshing with it. Tomnay crafts a disturbing dark comedy that also doubles as an intense cat and mouse psychological thriller which will keep you guessing and gripped the whole way through.
As the film really only focuses on two characters, finding two strong actors to carry the film was essential. Luckily, both Hyde Pierece and Crawford turn in excellent performances and really keep things moving at a fantastic pace.
Both the stars get a chance to engage in well written banter and their interactions with each other are what drives the majority of the film. Tomnay manages to keep the setting fresh and exciting and what could have quickly turned into a dull character study, actually manages to entertain.
Clayne Crawford, who isn’t as well known as David Hyde Pierce, manages to hold his own against the esteemed actor. The two go head to head for the majority of the film and Crawford matches his co-star every step of the way, creating a great foil to Hyde Pierce’s Warwick.
Speaking of Warwick, David Hyde Pierce plays him perfectly. The actor is absolutely nuts here and truly comes off as a genuine psychopath. From his mannerisms to his body language and everything in between, he absolutely nails the part. His performance is fantastic, giving us a character that is effectively creepy yet devilishly delightful to watch.
The Perfect Host is a well put together film and a respectable debut for the Aussie filmmaker. That being said, there are a couple flaws that can’t be overlooked. Firstly, Tomnay packs the midsection of the film with seemingly pointless flashbacks that don’t really add a whole lot to the film. There are too many of them which is problematic since they don’t really do much for the movie, or the audience. Secondly, a few plot twists are thrown at us and quite frankly, they go from bad to worse.
By the time we get the final twist, it’s just far too outlandish and asinine to even buy into. Our suspension of disbelief is completely out of reach. Making matters worse is that Tomnay has zero idea how to end his film and it kinds of just stops, in a completely unsatisfying way.
In hopes of not spoiling anything I won’t delve any further into this issue but the twists here are just too outrageous and open up questions that either can’t be answered or have answers that just don’t make much sense. Tomnay is asking a bit too much of his audience by requesting that we just go along with it.
While the aforementioned problems do hurt the film, I still enjoyed it, a lot. The Perfect Host is a delightful little thriller that hits most of the right notes and will likely find itself as a cult classic somewhere down the road. It’s an impressive debut and one that shows potential in its director. With a bit more experience, Nick Tomnay could be a director worth keeping your eye on.