The Menu is a 2022 American black comedy horror film directed by Mark Mylod and stars Ralph Fiennes, Anya Taylor-Joy, Nicholas Holt, Hong Chau, Janet McTeer, Reed Birney, Judith Light, and John Leguizamo.
Tyler and his companion Margot Mills travel by boat to Hawthorne, an exclusive restaurant owned and operated by celebrity chef Julian Slowik, located on a private island. The other guests attending the dinner are Lilian, a food critic; her editor Ted; wealthy couple Richard and Anne; George, a post-prime movie star amd his personal assistant Felicity; and business partners Soren, Dave, and Bryce. The guests are given a tour of the island by the restaurant maitre d’ Elsa, who notes that Margot was not Tyler’s original guest for the evening.
The courses and Slowik’s following speeches start to become more distressing and violent. On Slowik’s orders. one staff member kills himself and another cuts off Richard’s finger when he tries to leave the restaurant. The restuarant’s main investor, while strapped to a harness with angel wings is drowned in front of the guests, who later try to flee when Slowik gives them 45 seconds to escape, but are caught by staff and are threatened by Slowik that any attempts to leave will result in more severe consequences. Slowik proclaims all the guest were selected because they make a living off exploting the work of artisans like him, then declares that the night will end with everyone dead. Since Margot’s presence was unplanned, Slowik gives her the choice of dying with either the staff or the guests.
Slowik turns on Tyler, revealing that he was invited personally and knew all along that the dinner would end with everyone’s death, which infuriates Margot, since he knowling coaxed her to join a trap for dying. It is revealed that Margot is a prostitute named Erin (who had sex with Richard) whom Tyler has hired for the evening, knowing that she would die. Slowik humiliates Tyler further by forcing him to cook (which he does very poorly) in front of everyone, then coaxes Tyler to commit suicide by himself with his necktie in a nearby storeroom. Slowik decides that Erin belongs to the staff and asks her to retrieve a barrel needed for dessert, falsely saying that Elsa forgot it.
Elsa sneeks into Slowik’s house, which contains a replica of Hawthorne, only to be attacked by Elsa. Erin kills Elsa in self-defense by stabbin her in the neck. After seeing newspaper clippings of Slowik’s past life in barely decorated office, Erin finds a radio, calls for help, and returns ti the restaurant with the barrel. A Coast Guard officer arrives from his boat, bringing hope to the guests, holding Slowik at gunpoint. The officer then reveals himself to be a line cook in disguise and returns to the kitchen.
Due to Erin’s disloyalty, Slowik now claims that she belongs to the guests, but Erin mocks his dishes and complains that she is still hungry. Having just seen a photo of a young, happy Slowik working at a fast-food restaurant, Erin asks him for a cheeseburger and fries. Moved by her simple request, Slowik prepares the meal to her requests. Erin takes a bite and praises his food, then asks if she can get it “to go.” Slowik packs the food for her and let’s her leave. Erin finds a boat docked nearby and escapes the island. To end the dinner Slowik pays tribute to s’mores by covering the guests in marshmallows and and hats made of chocolate.
Memembers of the tiny 1% get stuck on an island owned by an amazing, yet insane chef and his equally talented cooks. The guests, aside from Tyler, Richard, and Anne, think they are just going to be tasting some of the most exquisite foods and wines in the world in a beautiful location. That is just a portion of what these guests get at this insanely expepensive restautant on the secluded island of Hawthorne. The food and wine may be considered tasty, but the portions are miniscule and the disturbing “performances” both leave you hungry. You think the first “performance” is just a show and the only one, until every course is followed by one, making it hard to eat, because you instantly lose your appetite.
This film is considered a black comedy (dark humor), but I don’t understand why. How is someone drowning, someone shooting themselves, and someone having a finger cut off funny? It’s not, it’s disturbing. I didn’t chuckle not once for the almost two hour runtime. I found that the violence was too much and with less of it, this would have been a very enjoyable movie. With a great cast, I was expecting something great, but what I got was just a long movie where people eat, drink, and die. The acting is superb, the clothing is gorgeous, the food is prepared beautifully, the scenery is breathtaking, but the story is weak. The entire film is spent in and around the restaurant, mostly inside, giving the film a claustrophobic, cabin-fever feel, especially since there is no way for guests to leave unless Slowik allows them to. It’s Slowik’s way, no ifs, ands, or buts.
Slowik is a very powerful and strict man with a booming voice and a stare that feels like it’s slicing you in half. He claps really loud to get everyone’s attention and every time he does, you jump and get angry. He is a brilliant, but twisted man and very unpredictable. He is equal parts intriguing and scary and the character seemed to have be created just for Ralph Fiennes.
This movie jumps from really slow to really unsetting really fast far too much, making it hard to enjoy. Why this is categorized as a black comedy I don’t understand. Death is not something to laugh at and the deaths in this movie are very obscene. They are over the top gory, where you want to look away, but you still hear the sounds and that’s just as bad. Most of the film is dark too, not just because it’s at night (aside from the begining), but it seems there is hardly any light regardless. Slowik may want a certain ambience in his restaurant and house, but it’s hard to see clearly at times and it’s hard to enjoy the movie overall because of this.
Normally I enjoy weird movies, but this one was not just weird, but so disquietning, that I found very little enjoyment in it, aside from the fine acting from the main cast and the lovely attire and food arrangements. Had I had known about all the grusome dying beforehand, I would have seen something else altogether, as that is more offensive and perturbing than entertaining. Adults only 2.5/5