An affluent group venture to a private island for a decadent tasting menu from an acclaimed chef. But their succulent evening soon takes a terrifying turn, as vengeance is the main course. Co-written by Seth Reiss and Will Tracy, The Menu is a twisted horror film that’s a delectable experience and keeps you on the edge of your seat.
After an acquaintance invites her to an exclusive dinner party, Margot (Anya Taylor-Joy) heads to the allusive island that houses Hawthorne, a restaurant run by chef Julian Slowik (Ralph Fiennes). Surrounded by wealth, it’s clear she’s out of place, but it’s certain to be an evening to remember.
Ahead of every course, Slowik gives a grand explanation for each, filled with insufferable metaphors for the food. Margot is unimpressed by the showmanship and pretentious nature of the lavish meal, but the other attendees are relishing in every moment, enthralled by the elitism.
But as Slowik’s courses become more bizarre and take on a undermining tone, the guests will come to the realization that “the menu” includes more than exquisitely plated items.
The Menu is easily one of the best films of the year. Filled with as many allegories as it intends to mock, it’s so deliciously unique in terms of its overall story and how it executes with a somewhat black comedy edge, where the humor lies in the quirks and the poignant-yet-sarcastic message.
Director Mark Mylod ensures the audience has plenty to feast on visually. We’re treated to shots of every course, almost in a Food Network style, with the ingredients displayed. They continue to have fun with this aspect throughout the film, down to the finest details, which makes everything even more eccentric.
You could examine the film from any angle, as it speaks to consumption, idolization, criticism, and beyond. It’s honestly ironic for me to be critiquing it and how I dissect the clever ways it references society and industries. It’s exactly what the film is discussing.
But despite the pretentiousness of the guests in the movie, The Menu is not pretentious in its storytelling. It’s not attempting to outsmart the audience. And your perception of it can shift between the many commentaries its presenting: the arrogance of consumers and artists alike.
To throw in a final pun, The Menu is delicious. It focuses on the mundane ways we consume and boast without savoring what joy something brings us. The film is so imaginative and entertaining, it’s worth going back from a second round.
The Menu is now in theaters