The food is to die for!
At the time of my writing this review, The Menu was the only movie still in theaters (to my knowledge). At the very least, the movie is newly streaming and not yet on DVD release. For this reason, I will focus more on what this movie is about as opposed to what happens, along with my thoughts and feelings.
The movie follows a young woman named Margo, who is on a date with a young man named Tyler. Tyler is taking Margo to an incredibly exclusive restaurant called The Hawthorne, located on a secluded island. They are joined by ten other customers: A snooty food critic and her lackey, an actor and his assistant, three guys who work for the man who owns the island (and therefore the restaurant), another couple who are celebrating their anniversary, and a woman on her own, who’s identity isn’t known until later and could easily be revealed here without spoiling anything, but I feel that it works better if you find out while watching.
They make it to the island and take a small tour before arriving at the restaurant itself and are seated. From here they are presented with “The Menu”, an exclusively curated collection of delicacies specifically for this group of people by Executive Chef Julian Slowik - with the exception of Margo.
We find out at check-in, prior to the tour, that Tyler’s original date was a woman by the name of Ms. Westervelt, but Tyler changed dates last minute without telling the restaurant. While they are still seated without incident, it’s obvious that this is not to Chef Slowik’s liking.
And honestly, that’s the most I’m comfortable telling. Anything more is a spoiler and trust me, I’ve already said too much, but I will say this:
This is one of the best movies I’ve seen in a VERY long time!
First of all, it’s only fair that I add, as a companion to my opinion, a minute detail about myself. When I graduated from high school, I immediately attended culinary school. While I didn’t complete the courses, I did awaken a deep seeded love and appreciation for food and high dining. The work that goes into the crafting of flavors is noticed in nearly every dish presented on The Menu. The food is explained in a way one who watches a lot of Food Network would be accustomed to and the food looks amazing. That’s a bonus for me.
Secondly, as the courses are served, the motivations behind the actions of Chef Slowik become crystal clear both to you and the characters. As the personalities of the characters are established, their reactions quickly fall in step. Great work by the writers and the actors.
Thirdly, I’d compare my perception of the experience of the characters enduring The Menu to my experience watching The Menu. It’s thought-out, it’s particular, and it’s methodical. I feel like this movie is curated for a “high-class horror fan”. Not to be confused with “elevated horror”, but for the horror fan that “fancies nice things”.
I’m having a difficult time trying to score this movie. The rating system is pretty clearly defined and the five questions that lead to a score are easily answered, but my difficulty is about whether to award the movie bonus points.
While not on the page of my website that explains the 10-Point Rating System, I reserved a “bonus” question that’s kinda open-ended for movies that are excellent examples of cinema or for movies that commit sins so egregious that points must be deducted. To be honest, I didn’t think I’d need to use the bonus so soon in this endeavor, but here we are.
Since I’m not spoiling the movie, I can’t go into details about what would be leading to the extra point, but I will say it’s about how I felt about the ending. It involves someone’s character arc. I do understand what they were going for and the ending does line up with how they would probably react, all things considered, but I feel since I have to think this much about whether I liked it, probably shouldn’t get the bonus point, that would otherwise put this movie at an 11.
This movie gets my first ever 10, answering yes to all five of my questions.