While watching The Perfect Host, one gets the impression that it had two writers. Some scenes simply don’t appear to be on the same level as the others. It was only after I checked out the special features on this Blu-ray release that I discovered why. The Perfect Host was originally a short film, first shot in 2001 by newbie Nick Tomnay and written by Tomnay and Krishna Jones. In 2010, Tomnay finally gave in to temptation and expanded the story into a feature-length film, thus writing new scenes (though this time, solo). Mystery solved. However, whether you’re examining individual scenes or looking at it as a whole, there’s no denying that The Perfect Host is a delightfully-offbeat black comedy.
The story follows “career criminal” John Taylor (Clayne Crawford) and his plight to get away from the police one evening, after a bank robbery goes slightly amiss. Finding himself in an upper-class neighborhood, John grabs a postcard from the mailbox and assumes a new identity — introducing himself as a friend of a friend to a rather quirky eccentric named Warwick Wilson (David Hyde Pierce). Warwick is preparing for a lavish dinner party, so John’s timing couldn’t be any worse. As the night goes on, however, John discovers his timing was actually perfect. For Warwick, that is. It seems Warwick’s quirky eccentricity is part of a brooding psychosis — one that could very well result in John’s untimely demise should he not play his cards right.
I have been a longtime fan of David Hyde Pierce, so any chance to see this extremely gifted performer star as a menacing psychopath is a plus. But The Perfect Host has more to offer: mainly an intriguing storyline that keeps you guessing as to what’s really going on here. Sure, some of the apparently “newer” material — which dives into John’s personal background, possibly to present him as a more sympathetic character — tends to bog the movie down a bit, but it’s an ultimately satisfying flick overall full of some delightful lead performances and a genuinely creepy atmosphere.
Magnolia Home Entertainment brings The Perfect Host to Blu-ray in a modest 1080p 1.78:1 transfer. The film was shot in only 17 days and with a RED One Camera, so the whole picture has a rather flat feeling to it here and there. It’s still pretty good, however, boasting some fine detail, colors and contrast. The disc’s English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 soundtrack is similar: it delivers, but isn’t altogether praiseworthy. Optional English (SDH) and Spanish subtitles are also included, as are short special features. The first is a Standard-Def “Making of The Perfect Host” (10-min) with creator Nick Tomnay, while the other is an HDNet promo piece entitled “A Look at The Perfect Host” (5-min). A couple of trailers are also on-hand.
Oddly enough, The Host (2001), the original short film that inspired this big-screen version, is nowhere to be seen here — an omission that has me wanting to host a special dinner party of my own with whomever opted not to include it. Alas, I suppose we’ll all just have to live with it, and the lack of the source material should not dissuade potential viewers from checking out this mini-masterpiece.