In 2019, during those last fleeting moments before social distancing, the love of my life turned forty. This was a true milestone birthday, so I decided to throw him a surprise party. It took a lot of planning and even his best friend, from over a thousand miles away, came for the weekend. It was glorious and I believe that he had a great time. There was only one problem: he figured the whole thing out.
We’ve all been there. You planned something that felt like it was the most important thing in the whole world, poured time and effort into it, and one tiny incident can wreck it in an instant. Spilling punch on your wedding dress, tripping when meeting a date for the first time, a Freudian slip during your big presentation. It happens. Most of the time, we realize that it’s not the end of the world. Sometimes, though, it actually is.
Liz (Nadia Collins) and her partner, Jackson (Evan Williams), are throwing a housewarming party. It’s not just any house warming party, though, since this is the practice party before throwing the real housewarming party for Liz’s family. If that’s not already too extra, Liz and Jackson are also practicing what they will say to guests, what time they will serve which wine, even what minute everyone will leave. They are both control freaks down to their souls, so it's too bad Liz’s estranged best friend, Daisy (Naomi Brockwell), decided to crash their party, uninvited, throwing everyone for a loop. While an unexpected guest might not seem like horror movie material, unless you are an extreme type-A personality, it’s when a few otherworldly, parasitic guests start showing up that the real terror begins.
Directed by Robert Woods, Australian horror-comedy An Ideal Host is such a fun ride! This movie had me laughing, yelling at the screen, and completely enthralled. The character build-up was perfect and felt natural, and you love watching this group of actors perform. I could actually feel my blood pressure rising along with Liz (Nadia Collins) as everything starts to fall apart around her. This was especially palpable when alcoholic party crasher, Daisy (played by Naomi Brockwell), barges through the door and begins raiding Liz’s cabinets for booze. Each character, while intrinsically flawed as a human being, was believable.
The blundering socializing between the other guests was just as fantastically cringe-worthy, too. The absolute awkwardness of the whole situation is like one of those fender-benders that you just can’t look away from, and end up rear-ending the car in front of you. It is so good, it makes you feel guilty. Throw in some squiggly, parasitic, mouth-aliens and shockingly brutal body horror and you’ve got yourself a pretty entertaining hour and a half.
Sometimes horror comedies can be predictable, but this is not one of those movies. About half way through, I made my predictions as to which characters would become infected and how (or even IF) they would save themselves, but I was completely wrong, and I am thankful for it. There was truly nothing that I would add to or change about this film, and I am crossing my fingers for more work to come from screenwriter Tyler Jacobs Jones. Believe it or not, this was his first major film. An Ideal Host is the perfect movie if you are craving a sci-fi / horror flick, but also want to laugh your head off.
Film Score: 4.5/5
Editor's Note: Released in Australia in July of 2020, An Ideal Host was the 2020 Best Screenplay winner at the New York City Horror Film Festival. This film premiered at PANIC FEST on April 12, 2021.