The Perfect Host is a psychological thriller that seems to be following a familiar pattern, only to take new life as a result of a couple of pretty good plot twists. My expectations when I sat down to watch this film weren't especially high, but there is a mood of black humour right from the start as John, an injured young man (Clayne Crawford), evidently a criminal, gets embroiled in a hold-up from which he is lucky to escape alive. He is desperately seeking sanctuary and seems to find it at the house of a pleasant, rather effete man called Warwick (David Hyde Pierce). John pretends to be a friend of a friend of Warwick's, and although his lies are transparent, Warwick treats him generously.
Warwick reveals that he's about to host a dinner party. He plies John with wine, and invites him to join his guests. John, in a panic, threatens him and instructs him to call the guests and cancel the meal. But soon it becomes clear that all is not as it seems...
At this stage, the story was moving along familiar lines, although with verve. But it starts to take an interesting turn as we learn more about Warwick and the reach of his imagination. There's a cameo role for Helen Reddy as Warwick's nosey neighbour. Yes, that Helen Reddy, who had chart hits with the excellent and mysterious "Angie Baby" and "I am Woman" back in the day. A very good singer who makes the most of a small part here.
We also see the detectives closing in on John, who proves to have robbed a bank. One of the cops is played by Nathaniel Parker, another unexpected piece of casting, and at first this strand of the story seems insignificant, just like the flashbacks to John's plans to commit the crime, in collaboration with his girlfriend Simone. But really, nothing as it seems.
I liked this film a lot. It's well-written and well-acted, and definitely a cut above the average psychological thriller movies.
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