Purely by coincidence, one day after I finished writing up my long analysis of the Hitchcock film Psycho, some friends invited me to their house to watch The Perfect Host, a film that borrows much from Psycho. The premises of both films are largely similar; they both begin with the central character stealing a large sum of money (in this case, the central character is a man played by Clayne Crawford, who looks a lot like a young Ray Liotta, sans talent, so he’s like the old Ray Liotta I guess) then hiding out somewhere where there happens to be a man who seems friendly… That’s where The Perfect Host turns into a decent film–everything prior to Clayne meeting David Hyde Pierce’s character is pretty boring.
David Hyde Pierce whom you’ll probably think of only as Niles from Frasier is cast here playing someone who seems much like the archetypal Hitchcock villain. He doesn’t outwardly seem like a raving madman, in fact, at first he seems like a civilized gentleman. Underneath that urbanity lurks a twisted up mind. The filmmakers play around with how we associate Pierce with a wishy-washy and harmless character, and Pierce seems to relish the opportunity to shed off his Niles persona for two hours or so.
In his performance, Pierce channels other famous dangerous characters, for instance there’s a memorable scene where Pierce dances on tabletops like Alex from A Clockwork Orange and there’s something of Jack Nicholson‘s Joker in his measured madness.
The Perfect Host is by no means a perfect film. For instance, there’s one too many twists at the end and the last fifteen minutes seem both anti-climactic and pretty lame, although the very last scene makes up for some of the falling action. Plus, there’s a bunch of flashback scenes involving Clayne’s character which I think could have been excised from the film completely. I’d argue that, more often than not, flashbacks only hinder movies, with the exception of Christopher Nolan mind-benders or Annie Hall and things along those lines.
Also, the trailer gives a lot of the film away, so I wouldn’t recommend watching it. The trailer tries to suggest this is a torture-horror film like Saw, Hostel, or like the end of Audition, but it’s not. There’s an obligatory scene with some gore, but for the most part, it’s a dark humor/thriller flick that I’d recommend for Hyde’s performance but not much else. Oh, and also Helen Reddy is in it for some reason (she’s the woman who released the Feminist hit “I am Woman, Hear Me Roar”).
—-I have published two books of fiction, both available on Amazon in paperback and as ebooks. One is titled The Madness of Art: Short Stories and the other is titled A Rapturous Occasion. To see them online, please visit my Amazon product page.
The Perfect Host is available on DVD.