The Perfect Host
Written and directed by Nick Tomnay
Starring David Hyde Pierce, Clayne Crawford
As movies like “Hot Fuzz” and “Serial Mom” have demonstrated, in the world of comedy, there’s a fine line between supercilious neat freaks and closeted psychopaths. This is the occasionally rewarding premise of “The Perfect Host.”
Set in Los Angeles, the dark comedy opens with a young bank robber, John (Clayne Crawford), making his escape from the scene of a crime. Injured and discombobulated, he finds temporary refuge by finagling his way into the home of an unsuspecting man named Warwick Wilson (David Hyde Pierce). He pretends to be a friend of a friend.
At first, it’s hard to tell if Warwick is a consummate host or an outright weirdo: He’s preparing for a dinner party, and he prances around with peculiar affectations and an uncanny gaze. The upper hand initially belongs to John, but we soon learn that Warwick is not what he seems. He’s actually one sick guy, and the evening quickly turns into a bizarre game of cat and mouse.
Crawford is good at shuttling between helpless and conniving, and Pierce is an effective creep. From the get-go, though, the writing is not penetrating enough to sustain either actor. “The Perfect Host” is most inspired when it’s just Warwick and John, mano a mano, but the novelty is spoiled by too many predictable and contrived twists.