In the era of pandemic uncertainty, the year 2020 has been rife with surprises. The film industry has been forced into a national work stoppage, leaving a shortage of horror films to satiate genre fans. Luckily, peaking up through the pile of rubble is a tasty snack of a film called The Dinner Party. This film plays like Ready Or Not (read our review here) meets The Texas Chain Saw Massacre. Built on a hellish night full of twists and turns, The Dinner Party is a lot more than a few morsels.
The Dinner Party is directed by Miles Doleac (Hallowed Ground 2019 – read our review here, Demons 2017 – read our review here) and written by Doleac and debut screenwriter Michael Donovan Horn. The story follows a playwright and his wife as they attend a party where they expect to make connections to help the author get his big break. Once inside, they encounter a mysterious and charismatic cast of characters that take this party into directions they never could’ve imagined. Though the story is simple, it’s told in a way that makes you want to get to know more about each character. This “family” is a lot more than just connected aristocrats, and their pasts come out at the film progresses. The filmmakers do a wonderful job of blending the sub-genres, as the themes of empowerment, revenge, and even supernatural fill the screen.
Aside from solid writing and direction, the meat of The Dinner Party is the acting. The actors are all unique, but they fit their characters like gloves. They’re able to take some tropes that may be tired or far-fetched in this genre and make them feel realistic. Haley (Alli Hart: Blood of Drago 2019) is the manic, awkward protagonist. Her character goes through such a journey throughout this movie, that you’re able to feel her emotions take this roller-coaster ride. Lindsay Anne Williams (The Ghost Adventurers 2019) also shines as Sadie, an enigmatic fortune teller with strong ties to the past.
The set for The Dinner Party was a beautiful gigantic mansion, but it also led the viewer to feel trapped at the right times. The prop team did a wonderful job in decorating the space to give it a nice blend of antique and modern wares.
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 a macabre mastication that will keep us full until we are able to safely dine with our friends again.