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Fantastic Fest 2022 Review: ‘The Menu’ is a Sinister and Oddly Satisfying Take on Fine Dining

Fantastic Fest 2022 Review: ‘The Menu’ is a Sinister and Oddly Satisfying Take on Fine Dining

A young couple travels to a remote island to eat at an exclusive restaurant where the chef has prepared a lavish menu, with some shocking surprises” – Fantastic Fest.

You’re going to need a tall glass of water with that popcorn. The black comedy horror film, The Menu, leaves viewers clinging to the edge of their seats and thirsting for more!


Source: Searchlight Pictures

When the movie begins, we are quickly introduced to Margot (Anya Taylor-Joy) and Tyler (Nicholas Hoult). At first, they seem to be an oddly matched pair from entirely different worlds. Tyler strikes viewers as a brash obsessive food connoisseur lost in his borderline-cultic admiration for Chef Slowik’s (Ralph Fiennes) culinary finesse and craft. He’s the cultured know-it-all who constantly calculates how others may perceive his intellectual prowess if you catch my drift. 

Margot, however, doesn’t leave any room for second-guessing. Despite the looming mystery of how she and Tyler became acquainted, Margot comes off as the more self-aware of the duo with her dry sarcasm, bluntness, and cautious demeanor. In other words, this is the kind of woman who could not care less for the bells and whistles of pompous society. But she knows how to blend to survive among the sharks.

As the young couple interacts, one could potentially see how one may be the yin to the other’s yang. We soon learn they are about to depart for a luxury experience at a coastal destination to dine at a world-renown exclusive restaurant. Historically, only the fine crop of society has had the privilege to visit. 

Interestingly, the private island restaurant can only be reached and departed (coughs escaped) by boat — because that’s perfectly normal. 👀

via GIPHY

After a few suspicious encounters with the chef’s staff, Margot and Tyler finally find themselves being escorted to their exclusive restaurant with 9 other diners. Like Tyler and Margot, the other diners come from high-class backgrounds and have complex histories. 

We then meet the enigma behind the whole show: the legendary Chef Slowik. He is brilliantly played by Ralph Fiennes in a depiction so chilling and unpredictable that it was reminiscent of Fiennes’ tenure as Lord Voldermort in the Harry Potter saga. 

As the film progresses, the audience is immersed in a culinary experience that is masterfully crafted by Chef Slowik and his eerily obedient line of cooks. Even as the comedic horror takes its twists and turns, The Menu stays true to one thing: the art of fine dining. 

As Chef Slowik introduces his guests to each course, viewers learn that the famous chef not only takes his craft seriously, but he is hell-bent on diners enjoying the food, not eating the food. 

I know — it sounds crazy. But he has a couple of screws loose, so it only makes sense — right? 💁🏾‍♀️

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Despite Chef Slowik’s obsessive compulsion with how guests consume his food, he does have a genuine devotion to how his dishes are created. Most importantly, Slowik holds himself to a great responsibility for his culinary process and the ecosystems from which the ingredients are derived. 

Slowik not only challenges his patrons to rethink how they delight in food but to evaluate their appreciation for the people who pour their entire being into delivering a culinary experience for them. In a way, Slowik’s message will also strike a chord with the audience. 

In his cryptic monologue, Slowik continues to share with his guests (and the audience) that in the world of fine dining, food is truly an art. It is a craft that deserves greater respect and should only be enjoyed by those who are worthy and have earned the right to such an experience.  It is at this very moment that the guests realize there may be a bigger agenda at hand. Immediately, hilarity and panic ensue! 

Viewers will also find that the foreshadowing and pacing of the film are perfectly timed as we get to see Slowik’s guests emotionally unravel exactly as we would. During the Fantastic Fest premiere, there were times when it felt as if the audience and characters on screen were one. We often found ourselves laughing or gasping in perfect unison with the complex group of misfits we were watching onscreen! 

The movie captivated the audience in a way that held us hostage to Chef Slowik’s emotional manipulation. This was cunningly executed and warrants the film a well-deserved 4 stars as it truly tapped into the audience’s subconscious. If you’ve enjoyed films like Get Out, you will likely find The Menu to be your cup of tea!

Directed by Mark Mylod, The Menu made its official debut at the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) on September 10, 2022, and made its first American premiere at Fantastic Fest, where it won the festival’s Audience Award. 

The Menu will be available in theaters nationwide starting on November 18, 2022. That may feel like a lifetime away but, as always, I’ve got you covered. For those of you who just can’t wait to sink your teeth into this tasty thriller, here’s the official trailer to satiate your appetite until the main course arrives later this fall (see what I did there? 😏). 

At over 6 million views, the movie is already gearing up to be one of the most highly-anticipated films of the fall!

For more of the inside scoop on what the BGN team saw at Fantastic Fest, check out these reviews on Piggy and Shinzô Katayama’s Missing.

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