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A Perfect Host Main

A Perfect Host Movie Review

Written by Stuart D. Monroe

Released by Uncork'd Entertainment

a perfect host poster large

Directed by Chad Werner
Written by Emily Hiott and Chad Werner
2019, 76 minutes, Not Rated
Released on February 4th, 2020

Starring:
Koko Marshall as Avery
Jeff McQuitty as Sam
Brady Johnson as Tad
John Michael Simpson as Cory
Emily Hiott as Becca

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Review:

There’s a scene in Kevin Smith’s seminal 1994 classic, Clerks, where Dante is preparing to close the store to play a hockey game on the roof of the Quick Stop. His buddy, Sanford, wants a Gatorade. Dante tells him that he can’t let him have a Gatorade because then everyone else will want a Gatorade, too. After some back and forth banter, Sanford says to him, “No, all I'm sayin' is, if you're gonna be insubordinate, you might as well go the full nine, not pussy out when it comes to free shit to drink.”

I feel like that sentiment is at the heart of Chad Werner’s A Perfect Host (previously titled Adonis Complex). Allow me to explain.

Sam (Jeff McQuitty) and Avery (Koko Marshall; Hellfire) are two friends who’ve decided to rent an Airbnb on the lake for a relaxing vacation with their friends, Cory (John Michael Simpson; V/H/S) and Becca (Emily Hiott). Sam is crazy about Avery, but he resides firmly in the friend zone. It’s awkward and painful to watch and only gets more so when the property’s owner, Tad (Brady Johnson), appears out of the woods seemingly at random…then making a smoothie in the middle of the night…then on the lake in a boat to intrude on their private time…then first thing in the morning for a hardcore workout with Sam. You get the idea. Tad’s a little pushy. He’s also fitness obsessed and highly opinionated about everything. He recently lost his wife, though, and plays on their emotions until he’s the third wheel on their vacation (all while trying to sell them on a fitness-based pyramid scheme). And where the hell are their friends?

If this all sounds a bit familiar that’s because it is. The stalker that won’t leave (be it a host, ex-lover, or creepy neighbor) is a trope practically older than film itself. So, where does the originality of “going the full nine” come in? Fear not. I’ll get there.

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A Perfect Host is easily one of the most awkward, uncomfortable, and unnerving movies I’ve seen in some time. You know that vibe you get when you feel someone looking at you while you’re staring at your phone? Then, when you look up, that person is staring at you and doesn’t look away. It’s kind of like that – just plain crawly. The performances and dialogue between “Friend Zone” Sam and “Stone Cold” Avery are note perfect. You can feel their mounting tension as Tad simply refuses to leave and becomes more bizarre by the minute.

The issue comes with what A Perfect Host attempts by having too many pots boiling at one time. It often feels like an arthouse film, complete with grainy 16mm-style shots, synth score, jarring musical crashes, and random shots of random objects seemingly designed to impart importance to multiple red herrings. There’s even an often flashed to film called “Body of Gods” that tells the story of Adonis and the anemone flower (this is important to the finish particularly) that looks like it would be shown in Room 23 of the Orchid Station by an Other on LOST. It’s a nice touch that lends a surreal quality to the overall zany proceedings.

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Just when you’re settling into that, however, the look and style go straight to video and low-budget personal drama with a dash of black humor. It’s a stark contrast. It’s a bit like layering a child’s take on Picasso over an actual Picasso. It’s not a case of A Perfect Host not being able to decide what it wants to be so much as it’s multiple storytelling voices in wildly different pitch and timber.

Now for the truly nutty part: It works. It doesn’t work beautifully (much like Dante and Randall’s aborted and all-too-brief hockey game), but the lovingly unhinged performance of Brady Johnson as Tad ties it all together. It’s weird, but we all know a Tad that looks a bit like that, too. When you throw in a frankly masterful twist that defies logic in the best way possible and visible dedication on the part of all those involved, what you get is full insubordination flying in the face of conventional or even sensible filmmaking.

Now where’s my fucking Gatorade? I’m thirsty.

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Grades:

Movie: 3 Star Rating Cover
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About The Author
Stuart D. Monroe
Staff Writer
Stuart D. Monroe is a man of many faces – father, husband, movie reviewer, published author of short horror, unsuccessful screenwriter (for now), rabid Clemson Tiger, Southern gentleman, and one hell of a model American who goes by the handle "Big Daddy Stu" or "Sir". He's also highly disturbed and wears that fact like a badge of honor. He is a lover of all things horror with a particular taste for the fare of the Italians and the British. He sometimes gets aroused watching the hardcore stuff, but doesn't bother worrying about whether he was a serial killer in a past life as worrying is for the weak. He was raised in the video stores of the '80s and '90s. The movie theater is his cathedral. He worships H.P. Lovecraft, Stephen King, and Clive Barker. When he writes, he listens obsessively to either classical music or the works of Goblin to stimulate the neural pathways. His favorite movie is Dawn of the Dead. His favorite book is IT. His favorite TV show is LOST.
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