Macabre…ish Horror Review: The Menu
The Menu, 2022/ 1 hr 47 min
Foodies, food critics, wealthy regulars and their guests, board a boat for a private island and the location of the exclusive Hawthorne, owned and operated by Julian Slowik (Ralph Fiennes). They are greeted by the maitrê’d, Elsa (Hong Chau), who will show them around the island. The even get a tour of the employees quarters but chef’s cottage is off limits, even to staff.
As dinner begins, they file into the restaurant. Chef Slowik introduces a series of courses with increasingly disturbing stories that accompany them. By the third course, the stories that accompany them are about the guests and uncomfortable truths about them, ranging from affairs to crimes. And it is presented, in part, laser printed on to the food.
The fourth course, sous chef, Jeremy (Adam Aalderks), kills himself in front of the guests. But the guests are reminded that they cannot leave, the fact is punctuated by shearing off of Richard’s (Reed Birney) ring finger. Then an Angel Investor, who now own’s Hawthorn, an opportunity created by the economic hardship of Covid, is drowned.
The fifth course called Man’s Folly, is presented by Sous Chef Katherine Keller (Christina Brucato), who tells the story of being constantly sexually harassed but never fired, after stabbing the Chef who did it. The female guests are asked dine while the men are given the chance to escape the island.
Meanwhile, the men are chased down, captured by staff and presented with the next course.
Chef Slowik explains that every guest is here because they all represent why he lost his passion for his craft and/or makes their living from exploiting people like him, artisans and service people like everyone who works for him.
But some people should not be here, foodie, Tyler (Nicolas Hoult) knew what would happen tonight and in his zeal, he could not resist the spectacle and came anyway. Though he could have saved the guests, or at least, himself and his date, Margot (Anya Taylor-Joy). And so he is invited into the kitchen as a chef and pressed into service to prove himself. While everyone is implored watch.
Then his creation, judged as bad, is presented but not served. Only perfection is served at Hawthorne.
Dessert is interrupted when Elsa is sent to fetch a barrel but is thwarted when she fights a guest who’s trying to enter Chef’s cottage.
Then Margot orders a cheeseburger and fries. She doesn’t like the pretentious food. She says his misery has taken all the joy out of eating. And so Chef Slowik makes it. And then she asks for it to go. She pays and leaves.
Finally, dessert is served. Everyone in Hawthorn is dessert.
This film is directed by Mark Mylod and it is the epitome of eerie, slyly disturbing and the full scope of this horror keeps dawning on you after the movie is over. A man reaches the peak of his career and finds nothing but misery there and his final 6 course meal settles many scores. The calm in which it all happens, is the most disturbing part. Also on the cast is John Leguizamo and Judith Light.