By Dr. Zaius
Wednesday, June 10th, 2020 at 2:31 pm
The Dinner Party DVD | Digital
Directed by Miles Doleac
Written by Miles Doleac & Michael Donovan Horn
Starring Bill Sage, Lindsay Anne Williams, Jeremy London, Mike Mayhall, Alli Hart, Sawandhi Wilson, Ritchie Montgomery
Studio: Uncork’d Entertainment
Not Rated | Run Time: 115 minutes
Release date: June 9, 2020 (Digital/On Demand/DVD)
Plenty of horror movies in recent memory have used the “dinner party” as a plot device to mixed results, and Miles Doleac’s The Dinner Party does bear some resemblance to contemporary horror films like The Invitation and Would You Rather, but that’s only in the set up. After that the film follows with a beautifully shot, super gory, cannibal cult movie with a highly intellectual script, great soundtrack, and slick sense of humor.
Jeff (Mike Mayhall) and his wife Haley (Alli Hart) arrive at a beautiful mansion for the titular event, Jeff hoping to get his latest play produced by their wealthy hosts. Jeff wants things to go perfectly and that means Haley better behave. It’s clear from the onset Jeff is psychologically abusive, and we learn through a series of flashbacks that Haley has a very dark and troublesome past. They are greeted at the door by the obnoxiously playful Sebastian (Sawandhi Wilson) and we soon meet the dinner table of guests including Sadie (Lindsay Anne Williams), Carmine (Bill Sage), who is both a doctor and chef, famous author Agatha (Kamille McGuin), and Vincent (Doleac).
Each of these people seems more snooty, upscale, and pretentious than the next. Agatha for instance greets Haley completely nude and flirtatiously, while the rest dabble in long conversations about art, opera, and folklore. Many films like this would bypass long character-driven dialogue scenes to get to the bloody horror, but The Dinner Party lavishes in the time it spends getting to know these people. The script by Doleac and Michael Donovan Horn is never boring and full of subtext and subtle humor. Jeff and Haley as outcasts are desperate to fit in, especially Jeff who feels Haley is embarrassing him by outing his superstitions during the party.
The entire first hour builds to a gory crescendo that sets the real motives of our hosts in motion. The second half of the film feels like last year’s horror comedy Ready Or Not mixed with The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. Soon Haley is part of a blood-soaked ritual, the main course is served, and a third act twist that reveals secrets and answers unsolved questions. And then just when you think that’s it, we get a final twist, shall we say, a sweet dessert to end the meal on. You can’t ask for more than cults, cannibalism, and just a dash of the supernatural.
Most movies like The Dinner Party would dumb things down to squeeze into the 90-minute comfort zone. But at just about an hour and fifty minutes, the film maintains its punch throughout. The first hour was hypnotic with its engrossing dialogue and characterizations. Doleac doesn’t shy away from bloodshed, and gorehounds will have their quota met. Some may take issues with the film’s final 15 minutes, but I really enjoyed it and we got terrific performances by everyone in the cast, specifically Hart, Williams, and Wilson.
The Dinner Party from Uncork’d Entertainment was supposed to hit theaters on June 5th, but because of the pandemic it had to go straight to at-home entertainment. The film is available now to rent or buy digitally and is for sale on DVD. (Digital from Amazon, iTunes, Vudu, Google Play, Fandango Now, Xbox, Dish Network, Direct TV, and On Demand through local cable providers). This is well worth checking out!