Early on the film is a tad overwritten and theatrical, with a heavy reliance on monologues, but this gives way to a second half that is sharper and more interesting. The film becomes a lot of fun once things get a bit looser, crazier and more supernatural and it proves a fun genre hoot. Miles Doleac produces, directs, co-writes and stars here, staging the debauchery well. Clifton Hyde’s score pairs nicely with Michael Williams’s cinematography. Scenes are mounted with an effective mix of humour and tension as the audience waits for proceedings to escalate, as promised early on. There is perhaps too much waiting and discussion of the arts for some genre fans. But the film eventually begins to reward viewers eager for a bit more gloop.
There are game turns from the likes of Kamille McCuin, Lindsay Anne Williams (also responsible for the film’s fabulous costumes), Sawandi Wilson and Bill Sage who are clearly having fun during some of the more outlandish moments. Mike Mayhall is suitably pathetic and desperate to please as one half of the married couple enduring this dinner party. But the film’s star, and MVP, is Alli Hart, whose Haley endures much and yet remains a likeable presence throughout. This is a talented ensemble that just about manages to sell some of the film’s more outlandish moments.
The Dinner Party recompenses the patient with some well-mounted violence in its second half. It certainly feels overstretched and you wish there was one less conversation about opera, but you forgive the film this. Sometimes a narrative needs time to get to its end destination (which proves a narrative stretch, but certainly an interesting one). Colour this viewer pleasantly surprised by an effective mounted horror, elevated by a strong ensemble and a technical prowess that manages to hide the indie quality of the film.