An Ideal Host (CFF) Is Less Than Ideal
Title: An Ideal Host
First Wide Release: TBD
Director: Robert Woods
Writer: Tyler Jacob Jones
Runtime: 85 Minutes
Starring: Nadia Collins, Evan Williams, Naomi Brockwell
Where to Watch: Check out where to find it here (Release Date TBD)
Liz (Nadia Collins) wants nothing more than to enjoy a nice dinner party with friends and have her boyfriend (Evan Williams) “surprise” propose to her during dessert. Unfortunately for Liz, her former friend Daisy (Naomi Brockwell) is on her way to crash the party, get drunk, and ruin the evening like she always does. Although panicked that Daisy will destroy her evening, Liz elects to maintain composure in an effort to preserve her night. She’ll soon find out that Daisy is the least of her worries and that something much more pressing may put dinner on hold.
Situational comedy meets otherworldly terror, An Ideal Host is a valiant, if tepid effort in extraterrestrial carnage.
Right off the bat I knew that I likely wouldn’t be the biggest fan of An Ideal Host. It plays off of uncomfortable situational humor with varying degrees of success and situational humor is my least favorite form of comedy. Because comedy is so subjective it colors my impression of the film, so take this as a warning before scrolling.
To me, the biggest issue comes with the writing. There are several moments where the film asks you to suspend disbelief a bit too much. From the spatial understanding of all the players to choices made by both aliens and humans that feel odd at best and woefully inefficient at worst. The stakes never feel high enough to be scary because the aliens only get homicidal when humans don’t accept them as a host. The humor also doesn’t land do to awkwardly timed jokes and running gags.
The writing shines best when its focused on developing its zany cast of characters. Liz is truly the only one with any real growth or development. From control freak to survivalist, she gets a fully realized character arc that is digestible for the horror comedy. The next most fleshed out character, Daisy, doesn’t add much to the dynamic besides playing the agent of human chaos in the film and establishing the threat from the aliens. Wildcard Jon provides some much needed levity by providing the best one liners of the film and a unique addition to the friend dynamic considering his tangential relationship.
I can dig an alien invasion film, but I’m still unsure why these aliens want to come here. They dance around many questions of what their motivation is and why the humans shouldn’t be afraid. It is something we can call out because they can talk and take the time to imply that they do have these motivations and reasons.
It’s very clear that this is an indie venture but there are moments where charm shines through. Some of my favorite moments involve Liz setting the table to montage music while deciding on the theme of the evening. I am surprised at the quality of the effects work. For the most part, everything looks realistic, and it only asks for some suspension of disbelief once or twice.
With meh writing, amateurish acting, rough night visuals, and pacing issues, An Ideal Host struggles but doesn’t fully succumb to the pitfalls of most truly poor horror comedies. It does its thing. I suspect that An Ideal Host will find its audience and be a hit with them. I’m not certain that I am that audience, but I do admire the team for making something on such a tight budget and schedule. It’s quirky, passable entertainment and that is alright!
Fans of horror comedies may enjoy this quirky Australian offering, but others may find themselves turned off by its unevenness. Aside from a few well-earned chuckles, I found An Ideal Host an endearing yet clunky film that I more than likely won’t revisit in the future. Some solid gore and good jokes can’t offset the overall feeling that it doesn’t feel quite “there” as a film. In fact, the most exciting part of the film is learning what all went into making it. An Ideal Host may not be the ideal, but it is sufficient enough for those seeking minimalistic sci-fi splatter.
Overall Score? 5/10