Title: The Perfect Host

Director: Nick Tomnay

Starring: David Hyde Pierce, Clayne Crawford (A Walk To Remember, 24)

Unpredictable plot twists are always the key point to any successful thriller movie. With Magnolia Pictures’ latest suspense-filled thriller, ‘The Perfect Host,’ first time feature film director and writer Nick Tomnay proved his natural film-making abilities by not only creating unforeseen story elements, but also including multi-dimensional characters. The movie’s two main actors, David Hyde Pierce and Clayne Crawford, also help prove that a thriller doesn’t need big budget action sequences to create intrigue.

‘The Perfect Host’ follows criminal John Taylor (played by Crawford), who is on the run from the LAPD for robbing a bank. In order to avoid capture, John ditches his car and rings the doorbell of Warwick Wilson (portrayed by Pierce). After finding a postcard in Warwick’s mailbox from his friend Julia in Sydney, John claims to be a friend of Julia. He tells Warwick that he has just arrived back from visiting her, and lost his luggage and was mugged on the way home from the airport. While Warwick is preparing for a dinner party, he lets John stay, seeing that he has nowhere else to go. However, as the night progresses, John realizes he may be the one who needs to be careful of his new acquaintance.

The most difficult aspect of making ‘The Perfect Host’ for Tomnay was casting the role of Warwick. Having the movie in development since he wrote the short film it’s based on, ‘The Host,’ in 1999, Tomnay still was unable to find a production company to finance ‘The Perfect Host.’ When his manager, Stacey Testro and her partner Martin zoland, finally agreed to serve as producers, Tomnay was only given a small budget to create the movie, and even a smaller amount to give the lead actor.

When it was first announced that Pierce was hired to portray the title character, it was a surprising choice. He is an Emmy winning television actor who is also known for his family friendly roles in such Broadway productions as ‘Spamalot’ and ‘Curtains.’ However, Pierce proved he was the best pick for the title character, as he was finally able to show his versatility as an actor. In the beginning of ‘The Perfect Host,’ Pierce portrays Warwick as being friendly, but cautious, towards John; he seems hesitant to allowing a stranger into his home at first, but starts to feel guilty for leaving John on the street. But as the night progresses, the audience will start to believe John should be wary of Warwick. Pierce expertly alludes to the audience that Warwick may be mentally ill, but never gives away the reason why he is skeptical of those around him. The former ‘Fraiser’ star proved that first appearances aren’t always what they seem; he forgoed a higher-budget film to instead truly connect to a character whose personality carries the entire movie.

The believability of the story also relied on the chemistry between Pierce and Crawford, because the majority of ‘The Perfect Host’ focuses on their interactions. Tomnay also made the right choice in hiring Crawford to play John. Crawford, who is known for appearing on such action television dramas as ’24’ and ‘Jericho,’ perfectly transformed John’s personality throughout the events of the film. While John first started off as not caring about anyone else and was only concerned with eluding the police, after seeing the errors of Warwick’s ways, he starts questioning how his actions hurt other people. Crawford plays John as though he truly sees the error of his ways after spending the night with Warwick, and realizes how his actions affect other people.

Tomnay not only proved that he has talent in hiring his cast, but that he also has talent in creating a clever, creative story with versatile characters. Tomnay perfectly captured the struggles people face in dealing with their everyday lives. While most people don’t know what it’s like to rob a bank like John did, audiences will still understand his fight to survive, both against the police and Warwick. While audiences won’t feel sympathetic towards Warwick once he starts to turn on John, they will understand his annoyance towards how people dismiss him.

For his feature film directorial and writing debut, Tomnay created a suspenseful thriller that not only features a unique storyline and interesting characters, but also hired two lead actors who worked well with each other. Warwick and John’s tumultuous and surprising relationship is the main selling point of the film, which worked well mostly because of Pierce and Crawford’s connection to the roles.

Technical: B

Story: B+

Acting: A-

Overall: B+

Written by: Karen Benardello

The Perfect Host
The Perfect Host

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By Karen Benardello

As a graduate of LIU Post with a B.F.A in Journalism, Print and Electronic, Karen Benardello serves as ShockYa's Senior Movies & Television Editor. Her duties include interviewing filmmakers and musicians, and scribing movie, television and music reviews and news articles. As a New York City-area based journalist, she's a member of the guilds, New York Film Critics Online and the Women Film Critics Circle.

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