Guess Who's Coming to Dinner?

In my post about Cloud Atlas, I hinted at a broader theme: I'd like to see more ambitious movies with an interesting point to make, even if they're not entirely successful. And hey, I just happened to watch an ambitious movie with an interesting point to make, even though it wasn't entirely successful. What fortunate timing!

The Perfect Host is a small thriller that came out in 2010, and I don't remember it making much of a splash. The plot intrigued me, though, so I gave it a whirl. Clayne Crawford plays a bank robber who's looking for a place to lay low while the police are hunting for him, so he charms his way into David Hyde Pierce's place, where DHP's character is preparing for a dinner party. When the thief's story breaks down, he turns to violence to threaten DHP into compliance. But things soon take a strange turn when we discover that while we never know what's behind the facade of the person knocking on our doors, they don't know what's behind ours, either. There are dangers far more chilling than some guy who threatens you to get your money.

I won't spoil the twists; suffice it to say that the movie entails two people trapped together by circumstance - each trying to outwit the other in order to ensure their freedom and even their lives. As I said, this is a very intriguing premise, but it unfortunately falls apart a bit in the execution. The parts are well-acted, but the filmmaker's insistence on piling twist upon twist makes the movie feel contrived and artificial. A well-designed twist can pull the rug out from under the audience, but suspension of disbelief can only stretch so far. And besides, there's plenty of drama to be mined from adversaries chipping away at each others' defenses. There's no need to pull a GOTCHA!! every ten minutes.

I'm glad this movie got made, and I'm glad I watched it. It feels weird to say that I think more movies like this one should be made, even as I give it this grade, but here we are.

The Perfect Host: C+


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