January 12, 2012 -- This funny little movie about a bank robber on the lam who cons his way into a dinner party from hell isn't quite believable, but it sure is fun. It skewers expectations and has a lot of unexpected turns.
This film reminded me a little of “Deathtrap” and “Sleuth” in that the bulk of the story is a lot like a stage play with only two people in it. It isn't quite that limited, however, there are other characters in it, some flashbacks and not all of it happens in one place. The story starts in the aftermath of a bank robbery with John Taylor (played by Clayne Crawford of “A Walk to Remember”) on the run. His disguise didn't work and he was quickly identified by police. Now his face is all over the TV. He is injured and needs a place to hide.
Walking through an upscale neighborhood, he checks inside a mailbox and finds a letter from a girl to her uncle telling him about her vacation in Australia. John knocks on the door and gets inside, claiming to be a boyfriend of the man's niece who lost his luggage and was mugged. He is allowed in and invited to dinner by a fastidious man, Warwick Wilson (played by David Hyde Pierce of the “Frazier” TV series).
John watches nervously as Warwick prepares dinner for his guest and checks on the roast duck in his oven. Warwick seems to be the perfect host, helpful and attentive, but after awhile, Warwick's never-ending chatter starts to annoy John and he suddenly reveals himself to be a criminal. He says he will kill Warwick if he doesn't treat him well. He demands that Warwick call off his dinner party.
After a while, John loses consciousness. There is something in the wine. He wakes up to find himself tied up and the dinner party is in full swing. There are several guests, but they are all imaginary. Warwick is the only one who can see them. He seems to be more than a little bit crazy and dangerous. He shows John his scrapbook with pictures of bodies of John's murder victims. He could be the next victim.
This is just one of the sudden changes in perspective happening in the next few hours. There are a lot of twists and turns in this story, and too many coincidences to make it believable. It is a wild ride, however, with a great acting job by David Hyde Pierce, who displays a lot of range in this role. He plays a character who is funny, offbeat, mercurial and weird. You never know what he will do next. Clayne Crawford does a fine job playing a bank robber who is desperately trying to stay alive and keep from getting caught. This film rates a B.
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