Tuesday, September 29, 2020

Vamp or Not? The Dinner Party

Released in 2020 and directed by Miles Doleac, the Dinner Party makes no secret within its trailer that cannibalism sits at the heart of the film. However, it is not that which has led to this Vamp or Not. Rather, it is a secret of one of the characters and, for that, there is a spoiler over a key aspect of the film.

The film itself opens with a table spread with food, until the panning camera takes us to a character, Sebastian (Sawandi Wilson) who is wounded and spraying blood from a neck wound who then falls out of shot. If this article was more critiquing the film then I might have suggested it was a glimpse too far, with a small cast we do not forget the character or his fate.

the Duncans

The film begins with playwright Jeffery Duncan (Mike Mayhall, Vampires Suck) and his wife Haley (Alli Hart) pulling into the opulent driveway of Carmine Braun (Bill Sage). Carmine is a rich doctor who hosts a secret dinner party twice a year and the Duncans are invited. Jeff is excited as Carmine has been known to bankroll productions and he hopes to get financial backing for his play. There is something off about his relationship with Haley, who clearly has issues but Jeffery seems controlling and that feeling builds as we watch.

the diner party

After getting in – and being pranked by Sebastian – we meet the other guests; business advisor Vincent (Miles Doleac), fashionista Sadie (Lindsay Anne Williams) and bestselling author Agatha (Kamille McCuin). The dinner party itself has an undercurrent with an affected superiority displayed by the guests and the Duncans out of their depth. As things progress Jeffery is destined to be eaten, Haley chosen as witness to the act and the quirks of the guests and we get a glimpse of the hosts' occult leanings.

priestess and priest

Sadie, it becomes apparent, is high priestess (as shown earlier in a game with tarot cards), and it is to Sadie we turn as it is her secret that leads to this ‘Vamp or Not?’ The first suggestion comes at the end of the Satanic ritual that is conducted (dedicated to the Morning Star), where Sadie and Vincent officiate and a sacrifice sees Sadie and Vincent eat some of Jeffery’s raw flesh and then adorning Haley with blood, in a perversion of Christian Communion, but the key is the line, “The Life of the Flesh is in the Blood”. However, this could be simply a moment of occult mumbo jumbo taken from the bible, of course.

licking blood

Later we see Sadie get blood on her hand. The scene is blink and you miss it but it does appear that Sadie appeared out of nowhere but the licking of the blood could be no more than an affectation. However, towards the end she is shot and the bullet wounds heal almost instantaneously as her eyes become elliptical. Clearly she is not a mere mortal. She tells us that she was the first woman, forced into existence to breed with Adam (or as she says “a mound of mud and shit”).

elliptical eyes

So she is Lilith (though the name is not used) and the story meanders into Eve’s story also (Lilith is never, to my knowledge, portrayed as dealing with the serpent and eating the fruit), Sadie was punished, becoming the abode for jackals, cursed to walk the earth until the end of times and, importantly, “with only the blood of man to sustain me”. So, Sadie is Lilith and the vampiric connection that Lilith often has is explicit in her story. Showing the empowerment against patriarchy that Lilith represents, she suggests that she chose to leave the garden – she was not cast out.

And there you have it. We get little in the way of vampiric activity (bar a lick of bloody fingers) but we get an admission of sustenance through blood and true immortality.

The imdb page is here.

On Demand @ Amazon US

On Demand @ Amazon UK

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