The Dinner Party (2020) reviews and overview

 
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[Total: 21   Average: 2.3/5]

The Dinner Party is a 2020 American feature film about a seemingly sophisticated social gathering that turns brutal and bloody.

Written and directed by Miles Doleac (Hallowed Ground; Demons), the scenario is described as “a wickedly delish slice of horror that’s part Guto Parente’s The Cannibal Club, part mother! and all scares!”

The movie stars Bill Sage, Lindsay Anne Williams, Jeremy London, Mike Mayhall, Alli Hart, Ritchie Montgomery and Miles Doleac himself (Santa Jaws; Attack of the Southern Fried Zombies; Don’t Kill It, et al).

The writer-director explained: “The Dinner Party is this delightfully weird, yet poignant piece of horror satire that presents itself as the twisted love child of Eyes Wide Shut, mother!, the American Horror Story anthology, and The Rocky Horror Picture Show. It’s unlike anything I’ve directed to date and certainly a departure from the recent work I’ve done in the realm of Southern Gothic. We’ve gone bolder this time around. We’re swinging for the fences.”

Plot:

A budding playwright and his wife attend a dinner party hosted by wealthy, cultural elites, who have promised to bankroll the writer’s latest play to Broadway, but, in fact, have darker designs in mind for the couple…

[May contain spoilers] Review:

Actor-turned-director Miles Doleac seems to be blissfully unaware that indie horror films need to maintain a certain amount of focus on plot development, pacing and running time. His Demons (2017) ran 105 minutes, Hallowed Ground (2018) upped the ante to 117 minutes and The Dinner Party continues in the same vein at 116 minutes; the conclusion that this is self-indulgent is unavoidably obvious. Clearly, any film’s lengthier running time is only valid if the scenario and plot developments can support its scope. In this case, there is too much flab and primarily just one setting.

For the first hour or so, the pretentious elites’ dinner party banter – which is all drawn-out opera plots and discussion as to whether a bottle of Chianti is better than a Barolo – is both cringe-inducing and yet surprisingly engrossing. When things eventually turn violent and nasty – and avoiding spoilers as to what choice cuts are really on the menu (you can easily guess) – The Dinner Party definitely shifts into top gear and becomes gory and gripping.

Unfortunately, the pace then slips and for the final thirty minutes, the viewer is faced with a protracted denouement positing some biblical bullshit that undermines the entire endeavour. There are strong female characters here which are most welcome, however, the film is also hampered by Doleac’s character Vincent having an unconvincing Brit accent that proves unnecessarily distracting.

The Dinner Part is definitely worth a visit but make sure you have time to spare and perhaps a bottle of red to hand too. That way, its longueurs may be more palatable.

Adrian J Smith, MOVIES and MANIA

[May contain spoilers] Other reviews:

“The movie itself was quite compelling. It had an air of mystery from the outset which only grew more intense as the story progressed. Add in some ritualistic cannibalism, a generous helping of blood and gore with a religious undertone throughout and you’ve got a great flick!” Erebus Horror

” …The Dinner Party is a solid genre effort that slots neatly into the variety of recent movies that have taken aim at those who use their money and influence for nefarious purposes. The strong ensemble cast elevates the wordy script and cliché plotting and there’s an enjoyable uptick in pace when the narrative finally starts to click into its inevitable, bloody pandemonium.” Flickering Myth

“There is plenty of action and just enough gore to make you wish you hadn’t eaten so much before you started the film. As good as he is building tension in the movie through words, Doleac shows he’s got a talent for directing violence, too, with the added bonus of making even the most outrageous acts not only look real but feel like an integral part of the story.” Gruesome magazine

The-Dinner-Party-2020-movie-film-horror-reviews

“This movie is twisted and perverse but in all the right ways. It’s Carmine’s turn. He is like the Gordon Ramsay of cannibals. […] These people are evil or villains or bad people but they don’t see it. These people think they are living every day, normal lives. It’s divinely demented like watching an opera if it was a film.” HNN

“While tackling the controversy of eating flesh, the movie is about so much more. It’s horror, satire, comedy, drama, and a thriller all wrapped in one pretty package. The Dinner Party delivers sophisticated horror with a twist.” Horror Fuel

“Not surprisingly, both Haley and the “untouchable elite” connect on their terrible pasts as all the tension of the gathering eventually culminates into horrific actions. The Dinner Party might struggle to find an audience because the film combines a slow-build with some violent and unpredictable scenes, but the acting and atmosphere will hopefully find a place at your horror table.” Killer Horror Critic

“The lion’s share of the blame goes to the director, Miles Doleac, for the stagy performances that are often a mismatch for the type of camera work he has chosen. Save the inexpertly presented mildly interesting elements of psychological thriller, nothing during the 116 minutes engages me.” Leaky Loonage

The-Dinner-Party-2020-movie-film-horror-reviews-Alli-Hart

“Uncork’d Entertainment are tireless in their VOD offerings, but this is one of their strongest offerings to date, even more notable for such a deliberate, unique film.  This is a determined cuisine of mystery and murder, abhorrence and vice, macabre spectacle and delicious supernatural dread at the plat principal.” Monsters, Madness and Magic

“This is a story that might well take a little longer than it needs to, to get going, with the eccentric nature of the hosts coming to life, but once the motivation happens, we get a final act that could easily be put in any list with You’re Next or Ready or Not […] This is a fun horror that isn’t afraid to hold anything back, it has an excellent final act that saves the slower start.” Movie Reviews 101

“Set design and costume design is on par with the characters and the music assures the snobbery is in harmony with the setting. Everything about The Dinner Party is believable and well-executed without needing any gratuitous cheap thrills and jump scares. It is not a scary film, but it is a proper balanced meal of gore and tension that boils to a bloody opus of maniacal mythos.” The Movie Sleuth

“Running almost two hours in length The Dinner Party is, at first, something of a slog – spending far too much time on the strange chit-chat of the dinner party guests […] There’s a rather bizarre turn of events as the film closes. The Dinner Party turns from a story about a woman battling to survive at a dinner filled with cannibals to a biblical tale of good versus evil, as one of the guests turns out be not who we’re led to believe.” Nerdly

The-Dinner-Party-2020-movie-film-horror-reviews-Kamille-McCuin-Alli-Hart
Alli Hart and Kamille McCuin

As waif-like as she is powerful, Alli Hart puts everything into her eventual lead role of Haley […] Everyone else is just a barrel of terrible acting including the great Bill Sage […] Miles Doleac has a crack at shock value with dark comedy, however when characters say dumb things like ‘the only thing that makes me hornier than a beautiful woman is a corpse’; the bar is set low.” The People’s Movies

“It wasn’t without its flaws, as the second act drags a bit and some of the monologues may lull the contemporary viewer out of the intensity of the scenes. But aside from some minor pacing problems, it’s very easy to invest in the characters and be shocked by the turns it takes. The Dinner Party makes for macabre mastication…” Pop Horror

“Haley has secrets, the hosts have ulterior motives and reveal the full horror soon enough. The cast are good, especially Sadie and Haley. I’m reminded of Midsommar.” Red Carpet Crash

“Taking multiple stabs at the rich, The Dinner Party is one hell of a feast that you won’t forget anytime soon.  Thanks to a solid cast and some tight direction, independent horror gets sophisticated and invites you to dine, drink, and digest this June!” Reel Reviews

” …the very “cultured” atmosphere stands in rather delicious contrast to the horrors of the piece, with its menace masked in “classy” dialogue – all of which makes the actual outbreak of all the horrors all the more exquisite, and that said the rather unexpected (yet narratively logical) third act of the piece sure packs a bunch.” Search My Trash

Release: 

The Dinner Party was released theatrically and on DVD and Digital by Uncork’d Entertainment on June 5th 2020.

Choice dialogue:

Vincent: “What kind of person quibbles over charcuterie?”

Vincent: “Technology is a barrier to real human connection.”

Agatha: ” You see, to this day, the only thing that makes me hornier than a beautiful woman is a corpse.”

Cast and characters:

  • Jeremy London … Haley’s Stepfather
  • Bill Sage … Carmine
  • Sawandi Wilson … Sebastian
  • Ritchie Montgomery … Brooks
  • Sherri Eakin … Haley’s Mother
  • Miles Doleac … Vincent
  • Lindsay Anne Williams … Sadie
  • Rachel Ryals … Young Haley
  • Alli Hart … Haley
  • Mike Mayhall … Jeff
  • Kamille McCuin … Agatha
  • Joseph VanZandt … Phil Rowlins
  • Judyth Daley … Tammy
  • Hollis Ellzey … Doctor Weems

Technical details:

116 minutes

Related:

The Cannibal Club – Brazil, 2018 – reviews

Hallowed Ground (2019) reviews

Demons (2017) reviews

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