‘The Menu’ takes suspense and horror to the culinary world

Anisa Qadir

“The Menu” starring Anya Taylor-Joy and Ralph Fiennes combines both horror and social commentary to create a unique, psychological thriller that leaves a lasting impression far after the film’s end. 

The movie centers around an exclusive thousand-dollar cuisine experience hosted by the renowned and ominous chef Julian Slowik on the island of Hawthorn. Among the specially handpicked upper class guests is one last-minute addition, Taylor-Joy’s character Margot Mills.

Slowik’s disarray to Mills’ unplanned presence and his progressively unsettling demeanor alludes to something larger at play. Each elaborate course is served with a side of humiliation and revenge, giving way to Slowick’s intention of killing all of his guests.

As the film ensues into panic, Margot discovers the secret to making it out alive: escaping materialism and looking for something authentic.

It’s with this discovery that Slowick’s true goal is showcased – he demonstrates how the upper class values food based on its exclusivity and social meaning, rather than enjoying it genuinely. 

Taylor-Joy rarely misses a beat as an actress, and her performance as Margot is no exception. She represents the clueless yet collected middle-class viewer with a balance of wit, sarcasm and strength that makes her the only character you root for to make it in the end. 

Ralph Fiennes’ performance as Slowik is as unsettling as it is orderly. It’s hard to expect what is going to happen from the rigidly controlled portrayal Fiennes brings to the table, overall enhancing the film by increasing its suspense and therefore enjoyability. 

Despite his calculated approach during the film, Slowik is far from a one-dimensional villain. Slowik may be one of the greatest in his field of work, but the journey to become the best was filled with people minimizing and belittling his passion – a storyline viewers may resonate with.

The chemistry between Margot and Slowik drives the film’s effective tension. Slowik is methodical while Margot takes charge and challenges his methods, keeping viewers on the edge of their seats. 

With high stakes, flawed characters and splashes of comedy, “The Menu” emphasizes the importance of loving and appreciating one’s craft, but also highlights the danger of forgetting what truly matters in life. 

Overall rating: 4 out of 5