Never have I ever wanted to reach through a screen and give a screenwriter a good, hard “What the hell is the MATTER with you?” shaking. Until “The Dinner Party.”
An exasperatingly amateur and funereal “Satanic ritual sacrifice” horror outing, sitting through it is like watching the wax melt on a candle, like seeing your life ebb away at the slow-poke slow-witted slow-motion trainwreck that co-writer/director Miles Doleac hath wrought.
Why do we read the credits when we go to the movies, kids? Why, to remember writers, directors and stars we want to hear from again. Or avoid ones who are a sure-fire, guaranteed waste of our time.
Doleac did “Hallowed Ground.” He’s just churning out the chum from the bottom rung of the horror feature film ladder. And his latest invites comparisons to one of the most infamous names in film — Uwe Boll.
“The Dinner Party” is about an aspiring playwright Jeff (Mike Mayhall) and his wife Haley (Alli Hart) who’ve been invited to an exclusive meal at the home of wealthy, eccentric and bitchily rude Sebastian Todd (Sawandi Wilson of Netflix’s “House of Flowers”) and his drawling epicurean partner Carmine (Bill Sage of TV’s “Power” and “Orange is the New Black”).
Jeff wants backers for his play. He just needs Haley to charm their hosts, but “no hospital talk and no crazy talk tonight,” he says. He’s got her pills. So they’re all good, right?
Others invited include the put-on posh-accented Vincent (Doleac himself), the faux feminist Tarot card reader Sadie (Lindsay Anne Williams) and the mystery novelist Agatha (Kamille McCuin of “N.O.L.A. Circus”).
Agatha makes the most memorable entrance. Haley stumbles into her at the upstairs bathroom, randy and stark-naked. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.
As this is a “no cell phones” party, we can guess what’s coming, what’s in the wine, what’s on the menu and just what belief system these fey rich inbreds call their own.
How one gets a 113 minute movie out of a 50 minute idea is pacing. Every gesture, every drag on a cigarette, is so theatrical as to almost be in slow motion. Every sentence of incompetent dialogue is drawn out, freighted with pregnant pauses and…meaning.
The alleged swells debate opera like neophytes who got all their snobbery from a quick Wikipeda glance, tell assorted unsuitable-for-dinner stories from operas, legends — Bluebeard, for instance. And they read “the cards.”
“Hurry up and shuffle the cards before I get BORED!”
Too late for that. Too late, too late.
“Sebastian, if you will, my cleaver. Oh, and my apron!”
No glance is without lingering, cartoonish contempt, no dialogue isn’t dull beyond measure, no murder lacks the state film industry subsidized gallons of fake blood.
This is utter garbage, from conception to closing credits.
Miles Doleac? If you can’t do better, consider stopping. Uwe Boll runs a pretty good restaurant in Vancouver, we hear. But considering “The Dinner Party,” maybe that’s not for you, either.
MPAA Rating: unrated, graphic gory violence, nudity, profanity
Cast: Alli Hart, Bill Sage, Sawandi Wilson, Kamille McCuin, Lindsay Anne Williams, Mike Mayall and Miles Doleac.
Credits: Directed by Miles Doleac, script by Miles Doleac, Michael Donovan Horn. An Uncork’d release.
Running time: 1:53