The Menu is a suspense/thriller directed by Mark Mylod. The film stars Anya Taylor-Joy (Queen’s Gambit), Ralph Finnes (Harry Potter) and Nicholas Hoult (X-Men) with the supporting cast featuring Hong Chau, Janet McTeer, John Leguizamo, Aimee Carreo and more. The film was developed under Disney via their Searchlight division of 20th Century Studios.
The film follows an escort named Margot (Anya Taylor-Joy) who was hired by Tyler (Nicholas Hoult) to join him in a dining experience held by chef Julian Slowik (Ralph Finnes). Chef Slowik takes his work very seriously and is very particular about his craft. Margot just thinks it’s a normal high-class dinner, but as the night unfolds strange things begin to happen that causes her to wonder what is going on.
So does this arthouse film about food provide a five star experience? Or is it simply a quickly thrown together by the number horror film that’s as plain as a McDonalds hamburger? Let’s find out.
WARNING: THE FOLLOWING SECTION CONTAINS SPOILERS. PLEASE CONTINUE AT YOUR OWN DIGRESSION.
So the film starts as Margot, Tyler and the other guests are brought to a private island where the event is being held. Margot was hired by Tyler since his girlfriend had recently broken up with him. They are all shown around the island and are eventually brought to the dining hall. Things start to get strange when chef Slowik starts brining out the first couple courses.
It all takes a turn when one of the dishes involves tortilla roles with images of each of the guests dark pasts. Another dish involves one of the Sous chefs committing suicide in front of everyone. We then slowly sink into the madness when we see Slowik kill his financier and realize this is all some kind of twisted game he has put together. His obsession with his work and feeling that he cannot truly satisfy everyone has caused him to punish those he feels did him wrong while also making his “masterpiece” before killing everyone at the end of the night.
Slowik becomes somewhat fixated on Margot as she wasn’t originally meant to be there and thus now part of “the menu”. She is then offered to join him, which she hesitantly accepts. All the while Tyler, an obsessed fan of Slowik, continues to eat each course like nothing is happening. Tyler is then offered the opportunity to show his cooking skills to which he fails and kills himself in shame.
Margot is able to enter Slowik’s hidden room and discovers he once flipped burgers for a living before becoming a chef. As the night is coming to a close Margot plays to Slowik’s obsession and says that she isn’t satisfied with his food. He asks what she would like and she says a cheeseburger. He makes one as she requested and she asks for a to-go bad, which he does so out of his obsession to satisfy. He then allows her to leave with her food and then covers the other guests in marshmallows and chocolate and sets the place on fire, turning them all into s’mores. Margot finds a boat and escapes, she then looks back at the burning island while fishing off her cheeseburger.
The Menu is definitely an acquired taste. Not that the film is bad, but that it is for a specific audience. It is a very well shot and suspenseful film as you are in constant anticipation of what is to come next. Despite there being plenty of death there is very little gore outside of a gunshot and a couple stabbings with blood.
Each character is acted spectacularly and the writing for each character feels very three dimensional. You almost feel sucked into the environment as if you were there dining with them.
This is a very well made film with plenty of suspense and thrills that keep you on the edge of your seat. If you enjoy arthouse films with a feelings of dread and uncertainty then you will definitely want to sink your teeth into this one. I hope that Mark Mylod makes another film soon as I am sure there will be many people wanting to see what kind of recipe he’ll come up with next.
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