An Ideal Host [Grimmfest Review]: I Propose An Invasion
A perfect, picturesque Pinterest-inspired dinner party promises its attendees many things, beautiful food, meticulously planned conversation starters and bouts of heavily organised fun. What the unsuspecting hosts weren’t planning for was a night of paranoia, secrets and violence.
After purchasing a house together Liz (Nadia Collins) and Jackson (Evan Williams) invite some old friends round to show off how well they are doing as middle-class tewntysomethings. Their wants are simple, for everyone to witness their perfect ‘spontaneous’ proposal and soak in their glowing, manufactured happiness. It all starts to go wrong when uninvited guest Daisy (Naomi Brockwell) turns up and proves that she just loves the drama.
The couple are rolling out their welcome mat of pretentiousness and showing off their psychotically constructed household that Liz changes at whim to fit the trends and atmosphere she wants. These two have too much time on their hands and not a single original thought in their head. They do however have a giant canvas wall art of them visiting Africa, just to prove how good they are as people, which tells you a lot of what you need to know about the pair.
“Dark comedy horror with great characterisation, outstanding effects and expert pacing.”
It’s a beautifully awkward gathering that Daisy cuts straight through with her ‘no bullshit’ knife. The sweetness and false camaraderie soon rips at the seams, giving way to backbiting, bitter resentment and eventually bloodshed. I must admit that Daisy was my favourite character for a long period in this film, she is the antithesis of Liz and what she is projecting as her image. Luckily, as the film progresses so does Liz, revealing why her and Daisy used to be such good friends. She also holds this power and ability to stand strong, clap back and survive anything.
The cast are incredible, they fit the stereotypes we expect of these types of people who live through image and lack substance. Poor Mara (Mary Soudi) just wants to spend her night flirting with the only eligible single man there and tell everyone her holiday stories. Unfortunately, bachelor Brett (St John Cowcher) is more interested in the unwelcome but honest Daisy. So, Mara must wallow in her defeat and accept the fact that ‘nobody wants to fucking hear about Bali!.’ Kyle (Daniel Buckle), an old friend of Liz and the reason Daisy is at the event, has also brought a date with him, well more just a guy he met on the plane, who is absolutely pitch perfect in his comedy. Jon (Tristan McInnes) practically summarises the entire plot in the first act with his eager perception and frank honesty. He is a welcome breath of fresh air at the gathering.
The table has been set and the chaos can begin as tensions heat up, glasses are smashed and meticulously planned alarms are ignored. After a screaming match Daisy decides to leave with Brett, only to return pale and terrified soon after. It’s hard to trust the drunk who has a penchant for attention seeking, but maybe hunky Brett did have some baby Cthulhu looking creature crawling out of his mouth and attempting to make its way into her less than willing host.
A game of ‘which thing doesn’t belong’ now begins as the dinner party descends into paranoia, finger pointing and self preservation. The tropes are all there, but it’s their unique delivery and the constant knowing nods to the genre that keep this entertaining. As the antics rise we are treated to a beautifully chaotic long take that is choreographed to perfection and really shows the skill of the team behind this film. This is then followed by moments of full hand held Blair Witch Project style shaky cam that contrasts the perfected choreography of inside the house. The real world is messy and so is the camera in these scenes.
The stakes continue to rise leading to an ending shot that had me awestruck with it’s beautiful insanity and laughing joyously at the perfection of this crescendo to the worst night poor Liz has ever had.
First time director, Robert Woods shows off his skills from his previous post as a visual effects artist with some incredible gore and creature effects and a jaw dropping note in the finale that I won’t spoil here. The Aussie humour shines bright with deadpan, dark comedy pervading the full script. Tyler Jacob Jones does excellent work writing his first feature, keeping the wit razor sharp and expertly fitting an intense amount of character and world development into a concise 85 minute run time.
For a limited location, micro-budget film this is incredible. Dark comedy horror with great characterisation, outstanding effects and expert pacing. It takes the fear of Carpenter’s The Thing and Invasion of the Body Snatchers and applies them to the Instagram generation. Just like Liz, this film may begin meek and mild mannered but it soon amps up and becomes badass. It’s a dark, hilarious and gory sci-fi comedy horror trip.