The Perfect Host (2010)

To anyone who has ever watched Frasier, seeing David Hyde Pierce play a debonair psychopath is pretty bizarre yet highly exciting experience. It’s a pity he didn’t get better material to work with, but I suppose the tone they were going for was more campy than very serious and disturbing standard thriller. This felt so much like a classic, a bit trashy 80s horror movie that I kinda wish it had actually made during that era. I can easily picture it with a synthesizer soundtrack and cheesy 80s decor and in my opinion, it really would have made the movie better. 

Suffice to say, I found the movie to largely be a sore disappointment, and there’s multiple reasons. First of all it doesn’t really manage to produce real thriller vibe. With a premise where a dangerous criminal on the run seeks shelter from a random house under false pretenses, only to become a prisoner and a victim himself when his generous host turns out to be a psychotic serial killer, it entirely lacks that fundamental claustrophobic intensity that it as a thriller requires in order to work. If you don’t have that oppressive feeling that makes you sit at the edge of your seat, sweating over what’s going to happen next, you’re not doing it right.

Another fault is that the several flashbacks that reveal more about the imprisoned protagonist’s past feel both completely shallow as well as arbitrary in their attempt make him look  more sympathetic. They  fail miserably to fit into the movie’s narrative in an organic way and only manage to make the movie drag even more than what it already was. Perhaps some  blame has to put on Clayne Crawford’s acting for not being able to humanize his character more, but it doesn’t really feel fair to do that. He has some small, undeniable charm, especially once he’s getting desperate later in the movie when the hour of his execution draws nearer, so it really has to be more of an issue of weak script than his acting. 

Lastly, the entire third act with the multiple twists pretty much ruins the movie. Had they ended with the first two twists, it would have redeemed the movie a degree and made it a solid C+/B- grade movie. But the following last two twists with the discovered photo and the girlfriend carpet pull just sink the movie entirely because they both feels so unnecessary. They don’t give the movie any additional value, and only force the movie to keep going another fifteen or so minutes of unneeded extra running time. The blackmail at the car park in exchange for a clean getaway was in itself pretty OK, but it’s not anywhere near strong enough scene to make it worth the delay in the end of the movie.

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