June 3, 2020 The Dinner Party (Movie Review)
In a time when dinner parties sound like a thing of the past, getting together with others to enjoy a meal sounds like heaven, right? Wrong. At least that is the case with the new film The Dinner Party set for release in select theaters on June 5th as well as On Demand June 9th via Uncork’d Entertainment.
The latest creation from Director/Writer, Miles Doleac (The Hollow 2016, Hallowed Ground 2019) and Co-Writer Michael Donovan Horn, The Dinner Party is a new take on horror-mysteries. That in mind, the story follows Jeffrey Duncan (Mike Mayhall: Jake’s Road 2017, A House Divided series) and his wife Haley (Alli Hart: Dry 2015, Blood of Drago 2019), a playwright who get invited to a dinner party thrown by renowned surgeon and culinary enthusiast, Carmine Braun (Bill Sage: American Psycho 2000, We Are What We Are 2013). Braun, having promised to fund Duncan’s new Broadway play, wants he and his wife to meet his merry band of eccentric friends (including Doleac as Vincent) who get increasingly weird as the night goes on. What starts out as a seemingly normal night, begins to descend into madness as the group’s true intentions are revealed.
There are many parallels to the 2019 blockbuster Ready Or Not. From the moment the cards come out around the dinner table, the obvious class differences, and the hosts’ sinister ulterior motives; however, there are still many differences that separate the two. One of the differences being instead of a playing hide and seek to attempt to murder your relative’s new wife as a sacrifice to an entity responsible for your wealth, it’s a cannibalistic ritual performed a deranged group of Satanists.
The most glaringly difference are the scores. Clifton Hyde’s music creates a campier atmosphere that almost take away from the overall effectiveness, making it seem almost cartoonish. Verses Ready or Not’s Brian Tyler’s jarring score that perfectly complimented the cinematography. Despite the score, that does not take away from the beauty and the intricate set design of this film. The backdrop to this thrilling tale is stunning; from the house itself to the various rooms. Each detail is drawn out as it slowly becomes a hellacious labyrinth that our final girl Haley so desperately tries to escape.
The characters, more specifically our gracious hosts for the evening, are absolutely dreadful. They are huge snobs, who desperately try to one-up the other; almost as if it were a battle of who is the most cultured at the table. It makes it all too easy to sympathize and root for our heroine Haley, especially after things take a turn for the gruesome and she is forced to see her husband be decapitated. However, that just solidifies the strength in their performance and each actor delivered a powerful enough performance to make you hate them. You want to see just how vile things can get because it makes for a more compelling story and it paid off.
Furthermore, Sage is a terrific villain as he is moth charming and detestable. Then there is the shift in Hart’s character which is one of the best dynamics in the film. She transforms in each scene as she fights tooth and nail to get through the night alive. She becomes increasingly unhinged as she claws her way through the guests, it’s a delight to witness. This is while Lindsay Anne Williams (The Hollow 2016, Hallowed Ground 2019) provides another stand out performance as Sadie which is mysterious. In enough words, she mystifies both Haley and the audience into her magically devilish web.
While the premise is nothing new, what The Dinner Party brings to the metaphorical table is its attention to story-telling and character development. Each tale told around the dinner table both slyly unveils their devious plans, simultaneously warning you and the main characters that something is not right. It is a clearly driven motive that plays out beautifully – and horrifically – on screen. The Dinner Party is a Grindhouse -esque slasher that’s not to be missed and that is why Cryptic Rock gives it 3.5 out of 5 stars.