the menu | mark mylod | seeth reiss | will tracy | ralph fiennes | anya taylor-joy | nicholas hoult | comedy | thriller | united states | hong chau | janet mcteer | paul adelstein | john leguizamo | aimee carrero | reed birney | judith light | rebecca koon | rob yang
Film: The Menu
Director: Mark Mylod
Writers: Seth Reiss and Will Tracy
Starring: Ralph Fiennes, Anya Taylor-Joy and Nicholas Hoult
This is a movie that I’ll be honest, I saw was coming out, but didn’t know that it was horror until doing my weekly check of what is coming to the theater. I did hear someone via social media say they liked this one so I checked my schedule to see if I could fit this in. Thankfully, as you can tell, it worked out.
Synopsis: a young couple travels to a remote island to eat at an exclusive restaurant where the chef has prepared a lavish menu, with shocking surprises.
We start at the dock that is taking our guests to this island. Tyler (Nicholas Hoult) is talking to his girlfriend of Margot (Anya Taylor-Joy). He is a foodie and scolds her for smoking, telling her that it will ruin her pallet. He is paying the high price for them to come to this exclusive place. She doesn’t seem as thrilled.
They are joined by others. There is a food critic, Lillian (Janet McTeer), and she is accompanied by someone from the magazine, Ted (Paul Adelstein). They are both pretentious. There is also John Leguizamo playing an older movie star that is trying to get back into the business with his assistant, Felicity (Aimee Carrero). There is Richard (Reed Birney) and Anne (Judith Light). They are married, but he seems to recognize Margot as well as vice versa. Lastly is a group of guys who are entitled, Bryce (Rob Yang), Soren (Arturo Castro) and Dave (Mark St. Cyr).
This group gets on a boat and head to the island. They are greeted there by Elsa (Hong Chau) who gives them a tour of the island. The next awkward moment is Tyler put another woman’s name on the reservation list and never changed it, who we learn later broke up with him, before asking Margot to join him.
They all arrive at the restaurant. Dinner service lasts over four hours with multiple courses. The chef in charge is Slowik (Ralph Fiennes). He gives them a night that they will never forget as things aren’t as they seem. The guests get agitated, but that doesn’t interfere with what he has planned.
That is where I’m going to leave my recap without going into spoilers. Part of it as well is that we aren’t getting the most complex story here. This movie is quite unique as well. It is taking elements of something like ‘And Then There Were None’ from Agathe Christie, but it isn’t necessarily them getting picked off one by one. We do get violence and there is death, but there is more in line with Saw here as well. While watching it, I was wondering if this restaurant was so exclusive that you only come once, but Richard has been to this place multiple times. This is something new that Chef Slowik is doing.
I can go a bit more into this without spoiling. Tyler points out to Margot early on that Chef Slowik likes to have a theme and a story with his menus. The goal is to figure it out by the end of the meal. What is interesting is that one of the first plates they get is rocks with scallops and vegetation from the island. Tyler is impressed even though most everyone else, including Margot, are not. Another interesting dish is one that is supposed to be bread, but they just get the different spreads you would put on it. Again, Tyler is amazed by this. Lillian critiques one of them for not being prepared better. Chef Slowik is watching them and taking note. Everyone has a reason that they’re there, except Margot. This bothers Slowik which is interesting to where things go.
Where I want to then go would be the setting. I love that this is on an island. It makes it where our characters are trapped. Not to mention, Slowik has many people that work for him. This makes it even more difficult that they know the island and there are enough of them to keep everyone in line. It is also interesting to go along with this for the fact that this is a restaurant of fine dining on an island like this. This makes for an interesting duality to where they are and what they’re doing as well.
The last bit for the story is also going to take me to the acting. We have an interesting cast that is good. Taylor-Joy is our star and she is spot on here. What makes this work is that we get an idea of our characters, but as the story progresses things get revealed. Her portrayal of Margot is good and I’m just a big fan. Fiennes is equally there. He has such a presence about him that is intimidating which is what we need. There’s also a sadness under the surface as well. Hoult’s performance is also good as this ‘foodie’. He’s quite pretentious in his love for Slowik. Chau along with the rest of the kitchen staff are good. The other guests for the most part are annoying by design which is what this movie needs. There isn’t a bad performance as this cast is solid across the board.
Then the last things to go into fall into the filmmaking. The cinematography is good. We get interesting shots and it does well in bringing to life how isolated the island is. The restaurant itself is modern which makes for an interesting contrast. We don’t get a lot in the way of effects, but when we do, this does go places. That did surprise me as well. Other than that, I think that soundtrack fits for what they needed. I also like the sound design. That adds another element as well.
In conclusion, this is a good movie. I’m glad that I came into this one blind like I did and just let it wash over me. We get an interesting story here that explores social commentary. That is something I didn’t bring up until now. It is limited though with the overall story, it is more about our characters, their decisions and things they’ve done in the past. The performances are good. This is a well-made movie. I don’t know if it sticks the landing as much as I would have liked though. Not enough to ruin this though, I will say that. Its use of comedy and the horror elements are a good blend.
My Rating: 9 out of 10