Dinner Film Review
Dylan (Aleksandra Svetlichnaya) is walking alone to her dinner date. It’s a full moon, the streets are empty and there’s a sense that someone or something is following her. As she walks around the corner she is confronted by a vampire, a wolf man and suddenly things start to get very strange.
Dinner is the debut short film written and directed by Svetlichnaya. The running time may only be 12 minutes, but the film provides a real showcase for her abilities, working on both sides of the camera.
Filmed in black and white and gradually building up the tension, Dinner starts off like a horror. We soon discover however, it doesn’t play by the rules, as the scene suddenly switches to colour and the comedy breaks out between the two male leads. Cosplayers Oscar (Joshua Kachnycz) who is dressed as a vampire and Hamilton (Ricardo Segarra) who is dressed as the wolf man. The film continues to change the feel throughout, keeping the audience transfixed. It may only be 12 minutes, but she manages to fit so much into the film, even adding a few extra laughs into the closing credits.
The three characters work well together, with Svetlichnaya playing it straight against the eccentric comedy of Kachnycz and Segarra. It’s clear to see the drive behind the film was to turn the table on the action movie stereotype. Exchanging roles, so the beautiful blonde becomes the heroine, whilst the male leads (Oscar and Hamilton) become the helpless scream queens. It is highlighted perfectly in one of my favourite scenes where Hamilton is being attacked on the floor. Oscar tries to help him by striking the zombie on the head with a brick, but undeterred, the monster looks up before letting off a high-pitched screech. Their reactions are brilliant as they scream in panic, before Dylan re-enters, spitting out the blood from her mouth, before moving in to take on the monster one more time.
Svetlichnaya looks very comfortable in the role, making the most of her martial arts experience and previous work as a stunt team member to create a memorable fight scene. It may not be long, but it gives the audience enough time to know she is more than capable of handling herself.
Dinner has a good score which was created specifically for the film. The opening sequence works well, combining a mixture of music and sounds to gradually build a tense atmosphere. It reminded me of the opening song in Suspira (1977) due to its haunting simplicity, which proves that sometimes less is more.
The filming took place over three nights with zero budget, so some of the footage is a little dark in places, which makes some of the fight sequences hard to see. It does however add an eeriness to the zombie in the shadows, which may not have had the same effect in full light.
Svetlichnaya has created something unique with her debut, showing a real creativity for filmmaking. If Dinner is just the start of what we can expect, it has left me hungry for the next course.