Review: The Menu


Ladies and gentlemen welcome to The Menu. Over the course of these 1,300 words, you will experience sights and sounds of bleak hilarity. The words you will read come from a seasoned critic who has witnessed several brilliant thrillers praise yet another, albeit with a pretentious twist. To experience The Menu is to laugh at intellectuals and art itself. The film holds a mirror to those of a certain prestige and decidedly defecates all over them for your amusement.

You will indeed be amused by it. The Menu will deliver a roller coaster of dark satire that will leave you continuously chuckling at the absurdity of it all. From laser-printed tortillas to breadless bread, to the best-looking cheeseburger you will never eat, The Menu turns food into a passionless exploration of revenge and self-satisfying pleas for retribution in all of the best ways. Never before has soullessness and nihilism been so captivating to audiences, and if you were to take your time to read this piece, as is your purpose for being here, then you will find yourself salivating at the prospect of espying this film for yourself.

THE MENU | Official Trailer | Searchlight Pictures

The Menu
Director: Mark Mylod
Release Date: November 18, 2022
Rating: R

The Menu collects a cast of various wealthy and influential socialites, and Anya-Taylor Joy’s Margot, and seats them at a lavish restaurant on an isolated island. The island is entirely dedicated to this restaurant, with the head chef, Julian Slowik (Ralph Fiennes), exerting an almost cult-like control over his staff. But hey, as long as the food is good, who cares?! Just when dinner begins to get underway, the guests slowly start to realize that there’s something nefarious going on at the restaurant, but by the time they realize it, it’s too late. The patrons are stuck there and have to complete Chef Julian’s bizarre and insane menu of elegant food with the looming threat of death over all of their heads.

So when you break it down, a lot of The Menu is pretty standard. We’ve seen plenty of movies take aim at the upper class of society and slowly peel back the layers of how they’re all awful and terrible people. That’s no different here, though the film takes more of an aim at the art world than anything else. They lambast actors, sycophantic super-fans, and know-it-all critics and their enabling cronies, alongside your standard greedy businessmen and unfaithful spouses. Plus instead of making its cast of characters into gleeful idiots ripe for mocking, The Menu plays it deadly seriously.

All of these characters, with the exception of Anya-Taylor Joy’s character, are oblivious to their own faults until it’s too late. I love the food critic who pretends to sound smarter than she actually is and pretends to be in on some inside scoop of the chef’s plan, only to be lying the entire time and completely and utterly pathetic when the facade crumbles. But because of the film’s dark comedy, it never draws attention to it. Everyone is so damn serious about everything that it allows the clever writing and the acting to really take the stage.

Review: The Menu

Copyright: Searchlight Pictures

Ralph Fiennes is the highlight of the film, commanding attention every time he’s on screen. He could crack a joke or stare daggers into the soul of a forgetful customer and just completely own you. He expertly plays a man who is world-weary and deprived of any and all joy. You would think that he would get some satisfaction out of what he’s accomplishing here or have some remorse, but there’s none of that. It’s almost clinical how little interest he has in his customer’s anguish. The commitment he gives to not caring is wonderful. You can really tell this is a man who used to have a passion for food but it was sucked out of him over decades of interacting with the worst society has to offer. The single moment he does get to experience joy in the film is probably the highlight of the film and serves as a glorious emotional climax for his character.

Even then, saying that moment is the highlight of the film is a bit difficult to claim because there are so many great moments that really make the movie stand out. I love Nicholas Hoult here, who plays a pathetic and childish fan of Chef Julian and wants nothing more than for senpai to notice him. He’ll break whatever rule he wants to because he thinks he’s above it all, go along with any of Chef Julian’s insane experiences with a smile because he gets to be a part of it, and throw people to their deaths just because he loves Chef Julian so much. Every time he opens his mouth, you’re eager and dreading what he has to say. He’s the definition of a character you love to hate, and the scene when Ralph Fiennes decides to actually talk to him is a brilliant work of art that will have you laughing at just how far the film goes to sell the joke.

Sometimes the jokes can be a bit cheap though. A few of the characters seem to only exist to serve as a punchline. While they are funny punchlines, when you realize that their inclusion is only to be jokes, it deflates any sense of purpose they had. It’s especially weird that given how so much of the film is aimed at punching up with some truly delightful motivating factors, one character’s reason for Ralph Fiennes’ wrath feels contrived. It’s not a deal breaker by any means, but like some of its grander ideas, the more you start to think about it, the more the cracks of the film start to form.

Review: The Menu

Copyright: Searchlight Pictures

But you’re not thinking about any of that when you’re watching The Menu. The film runs about an hour and 45 minutes and doesn’t feel like it has a lot of fat on it. Despite the film taking place in a single little restaurant, it really does go places. They’re dark places, but like the menu crafted by Chef Julian, there’s a purpose to it. It’s all to show how sometimes you need to do the things you love because you want to do them, not because someone forces you to do them. It’s a movie about the absence of passion and love and what that does to a person. Most importantly, it’s a movie about how a cheeseburger can save a life. No seriously, once this movie was done I was craving a juicy cheeseburger if only because of how good the cheeseburger in this movie was. If you’re a foodie, you’ll love The Menu just for the intimate shots of food, even when they’re bitingly sarcastic and nihilistic in their descriptions.

I don’t think it’s safe to say that The Menu is one of the best horror movies of the year because I wouldn’t classify it as a horror movie. This is a comedy more than anything and should be viewed as that, or maybe even a thriller. Even then, it’s missing a lot of the standard thriller tropes, so go into it expecting a laugh. It’ll be at the expense of others’ suffering, but when isn’t comedy built on the suffering of others? I laughed more at this movie than any other movie this year with the exception of Weird: The Al Yankovic Storybut it’s damned close. If Weird is about wacky fun, this is about depressing cynicism, and I can relate to that way more than the zany energy of Weird Al Yankovic.

The Menu is a delicacy that should be experienced at your earliest convenience. Book a reservation now and enter with the right mindset. While it may not be the most original film in the world, the end result is still immensely entertaining and worth your attention for its entire runtime.

Bon appetite.




The Menu is a delightful and devilish comedy that points directly at the upper class with a food twist and boasts several amazing performances to deliver the scathing satire

Jesse Lab
The strange one. The one born and raised in New Jersey. The one who raves about anime. The one who will go to bat for DC Comics, animation, and every kind of dog. The one who is more than a tad bit odd. The Features Editor.