Ralph Fiennes cooks up a storm in this darkly comical thriller as chef Julian Slowik. Head chef of the Hawthorn, chef Slowik invites a group of individuals to
eat (sorry chef, ‘taste’ or ‘savour’) his most elaborate and personal menu yet. What these hand-picked guests will soon realise however, is that this is a dining experience in which finding a fly in your soup would be the least of your concern.
Amongst those guests are new couple Tyler (Nicholas Hoult) and Margot (Anya Taylor-Joy), washed-up movie star George (John Leguizamo) and his assistant Felicity (Aimee Carrero), and food critic Lillian (Janet McTeer) and her editor Ted (Paul Adelstein), with others including business partners and rich regulars. These customers – the types that believe they’re receiving an honorary invitation for their contribution to society – all rocking up to the island in which Hawthorn is located, on a private boat like they’ve been invited to solve a murder mystery written by Hercule Poirot himself. Only there is no mystery behind any of this murder.
Director Mark Mylod’s The Menu is an unsubtle yet incredibly succulent entry into the horror genre. Pouring the right measure of horror into a perfectly written culinary based comedy. The sort that makes you feel bad for giving off even the faintest of chuckles, but within its writing forces you to feel for Slowik once you get to know those dining in his presence. Top of that list being the insufferable Tyler (Nicolas Hoult). An aspiring chef who buys into everything (and I mean everything) that Slowik is serving. With his brownnosing and poor etiquette earning himself a spot on my list of worst characters of 2022.
Ralph Fiennes and Anya Taylor-Joy on the other hand giving two of the most memorable and oddly enjoyable performances of the year. It’s revealed that Margot’s arrival to the party is one that Slowik wasn’t expecting, putting a road bump in a night that was so perfectly planned, but their relatable relationship being a key ingredient to the mystery that surrounds The Menu.
The Menu is real tasty treat for fans of a well-done dark humour, and is worth savouring and enjoying. With each course coming with new twists and authentic absurdities. Like the actors themselves, it’s something that you’re glad you’re apart of, but also glad you don’t ever have to physically endure.
It’s the audaciousness of the director – whose other movie directing credentials consist of goofy rom-com What’s Your Number (2011) and Ali G Indahouse (2002) – with writers Seth Reiss and Will Tracy that turn The Menu into a surprising hit, despite the acting talent involved. Not everything works, and perhaps some of the anticipation isn’t helped by a trailer that is a little misleading, but what does work, is highly effective.
If like me you missed your chance to see this on the big screen, then not to worry for Disney+ users, as it has now made its way onto the streaming service. People who perhaps aren’t fans of horror but are happy to dip their toes into something that’s more on the light side of that, then The Menu is still something I believe is worth sinking your teeth into. Four stars for the movie, one star for the dining experience on TripAdvisor (I mean, that cheeseburger did look delicious).