The Menu Review


Lindsey Moran

Movie poster advertising “The Menu” featuring Anna Taylor-Joy, Ralph Fiennes and Nicholas Hoult in the foreground.

“You’ll eat less than you desire and more than you deserve.” I believe this to be a direct metaphor to the watching experience of the newly released horror/thriller film “The Menu”. Starring Anya Taylor-Joy, best known for her leading role in “The Queen’s Gambit”. Taylor-Joy’s character, Margot, travels to a deserted island with her supposed boyfriend, Tyler, to enjoy gourmet cuisine at its finest. They join a group of 10 other highly successful people looking to experience the expensive evening, but everyone has secrets, including the chef, who has spent his life perfecting food to a fault, accompanied by his group of overly loyal assistants revering his every move. For the unsuspecting guests, it will certainly be a meal to die for.

Spoiler Alert

Though the plot is like no other movie I’ve ever seen, and I applaud it for its originality, I believe it to be a missed opportunity at a new idea. From the very beginning the film drops obvious horror/cult movie cliches. The boat immediately disappears from sight after dropping the guests, a forbidden house is introduced, and all the staff members have an odd robotic nature and an undying obedience to the chef. Each of the guests are clearly lavishly wealthy, but the movie fails to provide any backstory that would’ve given these characters any sort of depth. In a horror movie, it is important for the audience to build connections with characters likely to be victims. You need someone to root for, but in this film I genuinely had zero care in the world who would be the next to die.

 I also was left craving a backstory on our villain, the chef. He was clearly mentally ill, but other than revealing a brief story about his struggles with an abusive and alcoholic father there is no villain origin story. His mother is present through the whole film, but never says or does anything of importance. He is simply a psychopathic character that justifies his actions because he feels as though there is a major gap between the customer and server, and the greed of a customer must be punished. Therefore, he slowly exposes each character, while also revealing how everyone on the island will die. 

I understand the intention to create depth and shock with random acts of violence, but I struggled to connect the gore of this movie to the plot. For example, there is no conflict until the fourth course, when a sioux chef suddenly puts a gun in his mouth and kills himself. The shock factor was there, but it is never explained or brought back to the point. It was the same in the scene where all of the men run through the woods, after which they are immediately caught and returned to the restaurant with no cause or reward. The movie is full of these random scenes that do not connect back or add to the plot at all. 

I think part of the fall of this movie is the attempt at subtle symbolism that just did not include enough information to be recognized. I think there may have been a biblical play on the seven deadly sins, as I observed that there were seven courses and all of the guests could have easily fulfilled these negative traits. I think this could’ve been an interesting perspective if not so easily overlooked.  

End of Spoilers

The cinematography, however, is very well done. The camera shots and angles are beautiful, and it’s obvious that each shot had a purpose. I particularly appreciated the blur to focus tactic used when the chef would clap his hands for a course. The attention to detail was clear, especially in the filming of the food preparation scenes. The filming and acting in this movie is the only reason it will receive any success. 

All in all, I cannot say that I would recommend this film. Seeing it is certainly an experience, and I can see how it could apply to a select audience. It is a “love it” or “hate it” movie, and I swang more towards the hate side. This film had a great original idea and good cast, but was executed poorly with major plot gaps that ruined the storyline.