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A Bloody Trip: 'The Dinner Party'
Upper-class frights meet badass bites.
It’s Baseball season! What films go well with curveballs? Here’s a few that come to mind:
The Sixth Sense (indeed, the pop-twist of a generation)
Match Point (may never watch again, but stands as a turn from a shocking knife)
F for Fake (a picture of influence, advancing editing technique for the better)
Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker (a startling wreck that you refuse to look away from)
Links (to read & watch)
Film Crit Hulk on Z. Snyder
Behind the curtain of North Korean flicks
The Burbs are coming…
The Dinner Party
The horrors of white-flight, from the city to the safety of savagery.
Filmmaker Miles Doleac, who was recently seen most superbly as a German WWI officer in the limited series Watchmen, seems to have a thing for cults and the occult. Hallowed Ground involved a sort of Neo-Confederate backwoods of Mississippi type death group, while The Dinner Party is all about the supposed societal elites. It’s an interesting concept to explore for certain, how people of differing beliefs can share the common thread of power through darkness.
In his latest, Doleac goes with a facade of decadence as both a cover for evil deeds and a wall for the rich to cower behind. The Dinner Party had me talking back softly to the screen, running a commentary through the more heightened portions of the presentation. These included not just bloody gore or pure unadulterated disturbances, but cheeky snobbery and subtext too. We see early on one of the hosts preparing a dish, only to be criticized by another. His comeback statement is so effortlessly catty, I cackled in delicious delight. This is a movie of such devilish and devious delights, more of a satire for the duration than a straight horror, making for a viewing that’s fun and ghastly.
A married couple is invited to a fancy private engagement, where the promise of making connections has potential for success. The husband is horribly nervous, but more controlling of his young wife than of himself. Who of the two will see the most punishment? Sometimes, The Dinner Party does follow standard genre tropes of course, but deviates from formula with its characters and its own personality. Up until the final third of the film, the upper-class individuals exert their wants and desires with gusto, clearly having done all of this many times over. When the tables turn, they become scared and in search of a safe space. When choosing weapons to protect themselves, they find a utensil drawer, never expecting such a scenario to occur.
The pompousness is off the charts with this crew, and they deserve whatever comes to them.
There is a climactic surprise in store, one that is of the sharpest of needle-drops I’ve ever witnessed. It completely changed my overall rating of the movie by half a star, but it was a bold choice none the less. One of the best surprises of the night though goes to the unwavering near-fantastical and tense morbid comedy on display. Guests snip and snipe, awkward stories are told, and everyone is just barely holding on to sanity. It’s grand to behold.
Beyond the parody aspects, the characters (except for the husband) seem to share a common experience with trauma, primarily involving family and upbringing. There’s a path for the wife to choose ultimately, and the guests seem willing to grant her an answer. This is the other best surprise, and it still has me thinking heavily.
Sometimes succumbing to survival narrative trappings, sometimes surpassing expectations of similar independent fare, The Dinner Party is a streaming standout. Doleac is one twisted creator, looming over his figures with a pleased and wicked eye. I gather that much in the least, and that he’s having fun in the most. The Dinner Party is fun absolutely, but don’t watch with your Grandmother - unless she’s up for some kinky and sick s**t.
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