Hungry for a deliciously dark and twisted comedy? Director Mark Mylod’s The Menu follows
a multifarious group of society’s extreme 1 percent as they venture to an exclusive restaurant on a private island. Along with the once-in-a-lifetime dining experience comes a hefty price tag—$1,250 per person to be exact.
The film opens with The Queen’s Gambit actress Anya Taylor Joy, who plays Margot, accompanying her pretentious and self-proclaimed food connoisseur boyfriend Tyler, played by Nicholas Hoult, as they are about to board the private boat to the prestigious private island where their dining experience will take place. Tyler and Margot are joined by 10 other guests, all of whom are pompous and grandiose in their own special way. The accompanying 10 guests include a washed-up movie star (John Leguizamo) and his assistant (Aimee Carrero), an ostentatious food critic (Janet McTeer) and her editor (Paul Adelstein), affluent regulars (Reed Birney and Judith Light), and, of course, the stereotypical finance bros looking to “ball out” (Arturo Castro, Mark St. Cyr, and Rob Yang). Waiting on the island is the mysterious yet world-renowned Chef Slowik (Ralph Fiennes) and his team of rigid chefs.
As the night continues, we get a peek into why this restaurant is so special, besides the fact that it is located on a private island. Chef Slowik operates his kitchen like a small army, starting every meal with a thunderous clap followed by a booming “Yes Chef!” from the staff. His multi-course dinners escalate quickly from elegant to odd to frightening, leaving the viewer questioning whether this dinner is really what we think it is. When the guests become suspicious, wondering whether they should be terrified or flattered by the extremely personal details, the service remains army-like—suggesting that the staff has been through this ritual before.
Despite the confusion among guests that seems to transcend through the screen, the cinematography of The Menu remains dazzling yet bone chilling. Along with the visual aspects of the film, overlapping conversations throughout the dinner paired with a taunting and energetic score continuously shifts the perspective of the viewers.
Overall, the Mylod film will leave those who watch questioning what they think they know about the glitz and glamor of ultra-capitalism in America, and the inklings of comedy that seep into the cracks of the horror and gore is unlike any other horror film out today. In the end, The Menu takes the phrase “eat the rich” to a whole new level.
Stream The Menu on HBO Max.