Spoilers! I was blown away by The Menu (2022). Directed by Mark Mylod and written by Seth Reiss and Will Tracy, The Menu was both horrifying and hilarious. I will warn anyone who has yet to see it, it’s quite intense. I would not enter into watching it lightly, unless you are a seasoned pro with Horror. That being said, I spent my time in the theater either belly laughing or hiding behind my hands.
At a high level, the film is about the ultimate tasting menu experience. A collection of wealthy, though all problematic in their own way, people are taken via boat to a private island to enjoy the best culinary experience on the market. Hawthorne is a restaurant for the elite. Led by Chef Slowick, the staff all live and work together on the island. They harvest mussels from the shoreline and age their own beef on site. It’s an obvious commentary on the class structures of our current society. The cost of this meal? $1,250 a head, which the restaurant still charges, despite everyone knowing they’re about to die.
The Menu stars Ralph Fiennes as Chef, along with Anya Taylor-Joy (The Witch). But the star-studded cast also includes Nicholas Hoult, Hong Chau and John Leguizamo to name a few. As always, Anya Taylor-Joy blew me away in The Menu. She becomes the second center of the story, her character orbiting around Fiennes’.
They both deliver tense, and vulnerable performances. Taylor-Joy’s character throws a wrench into the plan by replacing Hoult’s originally intended dinner date. She plays the straight man from the very first minute of the movie, smoking despite her date’s constant nagging that she’s destroying her palette.
The film is fun. From the menu title cards we get between courses to the equally laughable and terrifying marshmallow finale. The filmmakers play with tension and humor in an incredibly successful way. The film’s charm lies in its lack of tact. Which is especially funny given the politeness you expect from a fine dining experience. The kills are hard to watch, but the message comes through loud and clear.
Beyond mocking the ultra-wealthy, the film also explores the life of a creator. The pressure and demand that comes with a high profile career, which in this case robs Chef of any personal life or happiness.
Overall, I am a big fan of The Menu (2022) and I’m itching to watch it again. So much of the tension comes from the unknown (and the clapping). We know “everyone will die,” but we do not know how or when until it’s over.