The Menu: scarily delicious


Jack Rogula, asst. opinions editor

On a private island in an undisclosed location, a chef and his staff work around the clock each day to craft dishes of the highest quality imaginable. This is the chef’s island, where The Menu finds its protagonists trapped in their own overtly luxurious “taste-testing” torture. Directed by Mark Mylod, the film blends horror, comedy, and over-the-top satire to craft a suspenseful and shocking look into the lives of the so-called “bourgeoisie” and how their consumption leads to horrific consequences.

Tyler (Nicholas Hoult), a rich fanboy of the chef, and his reluctant girlfriend Margot (Anya Taylor-Joy) are among the many specially selected guests that have the opportunity to visit the renowned Hawthorne Restaurant, owned by mysterious chef Julian Slowik (Ralph Finnes) on his private island. The other guests accompanying them include Lillian Bloom (Janet McTeer), a food critic who helped make Slowik famous, George Diaz (John Leguizamo), an arrogant actor past his prime, as well as a group of snarky businessmen. They all take a boat out to Slowik’s private island, where they are in complete isolation and served a multiple-course meal. As each course rolls out, tensions arise between the guests and eventually crescendo into a horrific and suspenseful climax.

“Do not eat. Taste,” is one of the countless lines Slowik spews out to critics as pseudo-intellectual satire. The cult of “foodies” that forms around this persona, one of a food “god,” is morbidly hilarious, and the way in which characters indulge and describe the foods he creates is so rich in its satire that it treads into uncanny and eerie territory. Fiennes’s performance is most notable, as it truly feels as if the audience is given the chance to “dig in” to the horrible mind of the borderline psychopathic chef.

Each act of the film is introduced with a new course, a stylistic editing choice that gives The Menu an elite and rich look, one that mimics the aesthetic the characters in the film obsess over and plague themselves with. The food is so ridiculously over-the-top and intricate that each dish seems to be a character itself, forming a relationship with each of the guests to reveal something about them.

“Do you want to die with those who give, or those who take?” The film’s less-than-subtle satirical message on the extraneous splendor and naivety that plagues “those who take” is presented clearly to the audience those who take do nothing but exploit and destroy all the passion and soul that comes from art, including but not limited to culinary.  

The Menu is one of the most suspenseful and eerie films to have come out of this past year, and it never ceases to keep the audience guessing “what’s next?” Available in theaters and to stream now. The Menu offers a horror experience like no other.