Directed by Miles Doleac [Other horror films: Demons (2017), Hallowed Ground (2019), Demigod (2021)]
I had some qualms going into this one, among them, I admit, the two-hour run-time, but based on what little I knew (and more so, what I anticipated), I thought The Dinner Party could pull out a victory.
That is not what happened whatsoever.
For most part, I found large portions of the movie tediously pretentious. Certainly that may have far more to do with the characters within the film than the style of movie-making in of itself, but regardless, I haven’t seen a film with conversations as pretentious as this possibly ever.
And if you’re wondering what I mean, the set-up is such where a couple is invited to a dinner party with a group of wealthy elitists, who proceed to discuss, with passion, their favorite plays and operas, doling out plots and names that would make most working men cringe. Obviously, these people can enjoy whatever entertainment they desire, but listening to debates over operas felt entirely disengaging, especially as it’s not just a couple of minutes, but goes on for close to forty, and takes up a large part of the beginning.
Among conversations of Puccini’s Tosca (Sebastian’s second-favorite opera) and Verdi’s Rigoletto (apparently a play about the fickleness of women), we also get a rather lengthy (eight minutes total) tarot game in order to decide who gets to pick music. It’s not nearly as fun as it might sound (personally, it doesn’t sound fun to me at all, but different strokes for different folks, I guess), and just adds to the tedious nature of the first half. A five minute conversation about Bluebeard and his wives was okay, and I guess learning about Alban Berg’s Wozzeck was educational, but this type of conversation taking large chunks of time, again, made the film so tedious.
Unfortunately, the second half is little better, though certainly the quota of action is upped, which does prevent the movie from being, as the kids call it, a total borefest. The violence and related special effects aren’t bad – in fact, while lower-budget in some ways, the movie generally looks nice – but the story just doesn’t work. These elitists keep one of the couple alive and proceed to torture them psychologically, which doesn’t really go anywhere, and just becomes generic in it’s approach. There was an okay decapitation, though.
Sure, the movie tries to throw in a surprise or two near the end, much of it regarding Lindsay Anne Williams’ character, but it didn’t really make any impression on me because by the time she goes into her origin, I was probably too far gone to care. Also, I hated the ending, but I guess this movie has consistency in how much I just didn’t give a damn about it. Also, if that cop surprised anyone, I’ll eat sneakers up in this bitch.
I wasn’t really happy with anyone in the cast, but that really has more to do with the pretentious characters they play as opposed to their performances in and of themselves. I guess that Alli Hart does okay as the lead, and certainly both Bill Sage and Miles Doleac have some charm. Sawandi Wilson is just another pretentious douchebag. Mike Mayhall’s controlling character was pretty hateable, so I guess Mayhall did well. Lindsay Anne Williams was eh, and Kamille McCuin, while naked her first time on-screen, didn’t do much for me either.
The story wasn’t without potential – I even liked the small, interspersing scenes of Haley’s background scattered throughout the film, and the second half of the film definitely could have been something worth something, but The Dinner Party didn’t go that route. I mean, I guess the title wasn’t lying – we do get lengthy scenes of a dinner party, so kudos there?
If you like pretentious dinner parties, this movie may be for you. If you want a horror movie of quality, though, while this certainly had decent production value, I’d recommend you perhaps look elsewhere.
This is one of the films covered by Fight Evil’s podcast. If you want to hear Chucky (@ChuckyFE) and I tackle this pretentious piece of trash, listen below.