Liz just wants to host the perfect dinner party but an unexpected guest sends the evening into chaos, with potentially apocalyptic consequences.
Cast: Nadia Collins, Evan Willians, Naomi Brockwell, St John Cowcher, Mary Soudi, Daniel Buckle, Tristan McInnes, Andrea Gibbs, Sam Longley
Directors: Robert Woods
Writers: Tyler Jacob Jones
I’ve never hosted a dinner party, but if there were even a shining example of why not to, it’d be An Ideal Host. A film that both solidifies my fears of having to impress and be prepared for any situation and a leading example of why yes: even a small dinner party can turn into a blood bath with the right company involved. And in the middle of a farm in Western Australia, no one can hear you scream.
Liz (Nadia Collins) plans the perfect night for her and her boyfriend Jackson (Evan Williams). They’ll host a lovely dinner party with two of their friends and a plus one before Jackson gets on one knee and pops the question. At least, that was the plan before Daisy (Naomi Brockwell) invites herself to the evening’s dinners part and sets off a chain of events to disrupt everything Liz has planned.
The opening sequence of An Ideal Host is ridiculous. Liz and Jackson practice how they assume the following days’ dinner plays down to a T to make sure every emotion, reaction and slight hand movement are perfected. If that wasn’t a sign of losing it, Liz wakes up super early the following morning to try out several different designs of placemats and general house decor to impress the couple’s friends. This sequence, however, is oddly fun but most definitely a sign of someone’s growing insanity.
By the time the party arrived, I was awaiting the twist, and it does eventually come. I’m not spoiling who or what, but there is one. I enjoyed the movie more when it was just an award dinner party, and the idea of Daisy cracking and disrupting everything was on the cusp of every scene. Even with Brett (St John Cowcher), Kyle (Daniel Buckle), Jon (Tristan McInnes) and Mara (Mary Saudi) adding an odd sense of noramitly, you know something is going to upset the room.
When things take a turn for the bloody in the films second act, it’s fun to watch it unfold, but not quite as entertaining or engaging as the build-up. However, the premise is fun, and although I won’t spoil it, it’s a unique twist on a well-done genre. What’s most essential, though, is the fun the film has with the characters and the horror genre. There are such bloody kills here, but first and foremost, director Robert Woods seems committed to entertaining the audience, be that through comedy or horror.
As for the horror, there’s one body horror moment in the film that may be too much for some viewers; otherwise, all the blood spilled is in a tongue in cheek way, fully aware of the odd tone the rest of An Ideal Host carries.
Full respect to Robert Woods for directing the cast to a winner here; the script from Tyler Jacob Jones could easily have been translated into a low-grade b-movie. Bad actors would have instantly ruined this film, and the cast’s commitment is a colossal necessity and even if the film’s final act falls apart for me as it’s buried in scenes in darkness with shaky-cam — An Ideal Host is still highly entertaining
An Ideal Host was screened online as part of the Sydney Underground Film Festival 2021. The film doesn’t currently have a theatrical or VOD release date.