“Frasier”‘s David Hyde Piece turns up the camp for “The Perfect Host,” a perfectly functional black comedy that deteriorates into an incomprehesible mess. Sporting more twists than Snakes and Ladders and more holes than a putt-putt golf course, the end ruins what is otherwise an enjoyable exercise in kitsch.
John (Clayne Crawford) is on the run after a bank robbery gone wrong- and camps out in the wrong house when he enters the L.A. home of Warwick Wilson (David Hyde Pierce,) a well-mannered gentleman with a sadist’s streak. Warwick, a full-blown Schizophrenic with a plethora of imaginary friends, holds John captive, while flashback reveal what led up to John’s crimes.
Sounds great, doesn’t it? It kinda is… until “The Perfect Host” falls prey to ‘the curse of the thriller’ and piles one nonsensical plot twist after another. I was reminded of the eye-roll ending of Stephen Soderburgh’s “Side Effects,” which brick by brick tore down the foundation the film had strove for.
Still, there are some great things here. The moments in David Hyde Pierce’s delightfully over-the-top performance where you can practically see him smiling over the script. The scene with Warwick f’ing his imaginary friend in the bathroom. It’s all very fun and funny, until the filmmaker overplays his hand and transforms a fun ride into an unmitigated disaster.
The obviously gay David Hyde Pierce plays the (presumably) straight Warwick here, which works about as well as it does in “Frasier” (which is to say, not at all.) The musical score is more than a little overbearing, but like Warwick, we are willing to play along… for a while.
“The Perfect Host” is a good example of a typical first feature- good in parts, not so good in others, and puzzling as a whole. If it had quit when it was ahead and ended by the 1 hour 10 minute mark, this may have been a different review altogether. As it is, it concludes as a mess, albeit an interesting one. Pity. Pierce deserves a better vehicle than this, and director Nick Tomnay refuses to give him one.