CFF Review: Robert Woods’ ‘An Ideal Host’
A very inventive and well-crafted debut from director Robert Woods, who has done some effects work on films prior to this, but decided to “go out to a farmhouse with some friends and see what we could put together” as he worded it in the intro. If this is what Robert can do with a few friends and a farmhouse, we’re really in store for something amazing when this man gets a proper budget!
The extremely aptly titled “An Ideal Host” is one part melodramatic comedy, one part mystery-driven thriller, making for a highly entertaining concoction set around old friends reuniting for a dinner party at one of the couple’s rural Australian farmhouses. There’s some “messy” character interactions right from the start, with a mixture of personalities that’s clearly bound to lead to a disastrous confrontation if not contained as soon as possible. It’s in the process of coming to a dramatic head around the halfway mark, when the whole dynamic in the room shifts due to a strange incident that occurs between two of the guests who left the room when they suddenly burst back in. This sets off the mystery/thriller angle of the film, and marks the beginning of an already very interesting story getting way more interesting.
This is all made possible by some solid performances from everyone involved and smart, grounded writing that keeps you guessing from start to finish. These elements combined with the excellent pacing, sharp camerawork, and well-executed effects shots that really convey the scope of the situation make for a great film that comes in at a super tight eighty-five minute runtime. You can attend the dinner party yourself, as ‘An Ideal Host’ is available on VOD now.