THE DINNER PARTY (2020)
Directed by Miles Doleac
Written by Miles Doleac, Michael Donovan Horn
Starring Alli Hart, Mike Mayhall, Bill Sage, Miles Doleac, Sawandi Wilson, Judyth Daley, Kamille McCuin, Lindsay Anne Williams, Ritchie Montgomery, Sherri Eakin, Jeremy London, Rachel Ryals, Joseph VanZandt, Hollis Ellzey
I reviewed Miles Doleac’s HALLOWED GROUNDS a while back and while I found the film to have some interesting ideas, the desperate need of an editor ruined the film for me. I fear that Doleac didn’t read that review as he doubles down with his new film which needs about forty five minutes at the very least to make it a tolerable view. I don’t mind stories going off on tangets. Tarantino has made a living off of leading us by the nose in one direction, then pausing and taking us on a narrative detour for a while before resuming our course. Tarantino’s power is that he makes the sidebars just as enjoyable as the main story, so you don’t mind the round about trip. Unfortunately, Doleac is no Tarantino.
Writer Jeff and his wife Haley (Mike Mayhall and Alli Hart) are invited to an exclusive dinner party with an influential star-maker named Carmine (WE ARE WHAT WE ARE’s Bill Sage). This is Jeff’s big chance to talk with some deal makers and industry bigwigs to further his career. Haley is along for support and we are told that she has some delicate mental health issues if she doesn’t take her meds (always a bad sign). Both feel out of place in the ritzy environment, especially after meeting Carmine’s eclectic and unusual dinner guests. After an amount of jaw-flapping that would make the star of MY 600lb LIFE change the show’s name to MY 90lb LIFE, we find out that the dinner guests have deviant designs for their unsuspecting guests.
Miles Doleac co-wrote and directed THE DINNER PARTY and I think the guy needs to really show his script and final edit to someone outside of his ass-kissing bubble. I know I don’t have to sit through these films, but I do because I want to write a thorough review. I very rarely give up on a film and try to see all of them through to the end, but THE DINNER PARTY seemed to never end. Now, I’ve never been to an upper crust wing-dang-doodle, but if this is any indication as to what it would be like, I’ll give it a hard pass. Every piece of food, every song, every guest, every damn movement this film features has a long-winded diatribe about it. At THE DINNER PARTY, we are treated with numerous opera debates, an explanation of every card of the tarot, extended origins of each guest, and name-dropping of classical musicians, artists, fictional characters, and historical figures…I know, sounds like a barn-burner.
Now, I’m not against little bits of knowledge peppered in to up the suspense and amp the tension. A little works nicely, as the aforementioned Tarantino nod indicated. The problem occurs when these little factoid bombs being dropped are as dull as the day is long and most of the time only serve to prove how cultured the writer is supposed to be. Name-dropping culture with a capital C is the upper crust equivalent of a rapper rapping about his Mercedes. Spending two hours with it proved to be an arduous task that ended up pissing me the shit off.
On top of Doleac’s penchant for distractible storytelling, he instructs all of his cast to…speak…very…slowly…because…I…guess…that’s…what…evil…characters… … …
Aside from the two innocent guests, the rest of the dinner party gives moustache twirling a bad name. They just love being evil and think that they are extremely cool doing it. Seeing the camera linger so long on their various stories exposes Doleac’s obsession with their banter as if every word were written in gold with a diamond studded pen. A straight forward version of this tale would have been twenty minutes long. THE DINNER PARTY is a tedious and snooty version of THE TEXAS CHAIN SAW MASSACRE dinner scene stretched well beyond feature length.
Add in some very shoddy sound work and out of the blue and extremely late in the game supernatural elements and you’ve got yourself one mess of a movie. I’m sorry for being so hard on this one, but I would only recommend THE DINNER PARTY to someone who ran over my dog with their car as punishment. Doleac makes everything look eloquent and casts the film with a variety of interesting actors, but doesn’t seem to have a clue as to when to have his characters shut the hell up and speed up the pace. Skip this bore. It’s two hours of overacting, useless tangents, and bad taste.