Director Miles Doleac’s deliciously gory The Dinner Party gets a few things right, but ultimately this horror/thriller fails to serve-up the requisite amount of tension to deliver the goods. It’s a shame because the film is a rather good-looking affair, with some solid performances from its cast. If it just had a little more focus then it could have been something great, but sadly this Dinner Party is infuriatingly undercooked.
The Dinner Party sees playwright Jeffrey (Mike Mayhall) and his young wife Hayley (Alli Hart) attend a dinner party hosted by a rich investor (Bill Sage). If the meal goes well then it looks like he’ll stump-up the cash for Jeffery’s new play – and mount the production on Broadway. However, what Jeffrey doesn’t take into account is the old adage: there’s no such thing as a free meal!
A cinematic slice of Grand Guignol, The Dinner Party wears its bloody sensibilities on its sleeve. In recent years we’ve seen a lot of horror films riff of the concept of the proletariat versus the bourgeoisie and Doleac’s film has a touch of that going on. It does it well, but he just can’t let it go – and that’s where the movie suffers. There’s simply too much talking in the first two acts of the film. We know many of these cannibalistic characters are snobs, so we don’t need to be repeatedly told about their love of great wine and good opera. At least now we know why Hannibal Lecter had no friends. A gory horror like this should never be nudging the two hour mark, and that’s where The Dinner Party goes wrong.
Thankfully The Dinner Party picks-up the pace in the final act and that’s where things really get going. There’s a last minute supernatural twist that isn’t fully realised, but it’s something different, I suppose. In that sense it reminded me of the recent horror romp Satanic Panic, but that film kept the comedy loud and the running time short.
In essence, The Dinner Party is a noble failure. It’s perfectly well directed and incredibly well put together for a low budget feature. However, it sadly lacks pace and precision. It’s not and out-and-out bad film, and that’s the infuriating thing about it. However, it is a little bit boring – and that’s very hard to forgive in any film featuring beheadings and cannibalism.