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Highly entertaining and recommended 4 Stars

A dollop of cheekiness and a dash of horror trappings punctuate the sweet taste of The Menu, a rich and flavorful creation offering up equal amounts mystery and intrigue laced impressively with the horror/comedy genre framing it’s billed as being. Brought to us alive with impressive performances from the small-ish cast, crafty production design and food creations, wrapped in an air of a film that knows what it is, enjoys having fun with it, and knows exactly where it’s going. Those with a taste for dark comedy artfully presented will gladly wait in line for what’s on offer in this entertaining experience.

The Menu (2022)
Released: 18 Nov 2022
Rated: R
Runtime: 107 min
Director: Mark Mylod
Genre: Comedy, Horror, Thriller
Cast: Ralph Fiennes, Anya Taylor-Joy, Nicholas Hoult
Writer(s): Seth Reiss, Will Tracy
Plot: A young couple travel to a remote island to eat at an exclusive restaurant where the chef has prepared a lavish menu, with some shocking surprises.
IMDB rating: 7.5
MetaScore: 71

Disc Information
Studio: Fox
Distributed By: Disney
Video Resolution: 1080P/AVC
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
Audio: English 5.1 DTS-HDMA, Spanish 5.1 DD, French 5.1 DD
Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish, French
Rating: R
Run Time: 1 Hr. 46 Min.
Package Includes: Blu-ray, Digital Copy
Case Type: Standard, no sleeve
Disc Type: BD50 (dual layer)
Region: A
Release Date: 01/17/2023
MSRP: $29.99

The Production: 4/5

“You will eat less than you desire and more than you deserve.”

An evening at a prestigious restaurant, the Hawthorne, situated on an exclusive island awaits a small, curated collection of diners, for whom their ultra-wealthy status helped them secure the limited spots. The Hawthorn is run by the legendary gourmet chef, Julian Slowik (Ralph Fiennes) and his team to ruthlessly committed kitchen and wait staff. The foody-wannabes and fine-dining-obsessed collection of diners are in for more than they bargain for when Chef Slowik’s themed, multi-course meal experience is revealed.

The Menu is exquisitely crafted horror comedy that delightfully taps into the obsession millions have with the making and baking machinations of celebrated and aspiring chefs. It moves the pretensions of food as fleeting, artistic creations presented to people who will judge them. And it tinkers with the pretentious critics who labor to invent new ways to describe the presentation and taste of food creations, all while layering something ominous as the film begins to unfold. And it’s wickedly entertaining. Director Mark Mylod is a man with strong comedic television pedigree, who, working from Will Tracy’s clever script, conjures up a tightly wound film rife with intrigue and curiosity, fanciful flights into danger and horror, topped with a cheeky spirit about the whole thing.

We’re lured in with seamless ease, dropped right into the edge of the events with little detail, elevating curiosity and playfully winding up the intrigue before releasing the tension in a series of escalating food courses. It’s utter fun. Early on we center on the contrast between Nicholas Hoult’s Tyler character’s eagerness and condescension and Anya Taylor-Joy’s Margot’s befuddlement and general disinterest at the pomp and circumstance around the food experience. The disconnect between their experiences persist for a good portion of the film and it’s a testament to their performances that you are riveted by not only the ‘why?’ of it all, but the ‘what now?’ anticipation. Delightfully, it only gets entertainingly weirder, wilder, and wittier.

The Menu layers in delightfully bitter and sweet flavors courtesy its strong cast. Ralph Fiennes is sumptuous and brilliantly controlled as Chef Slowik. His scenes with Anya Taylor-Joy’s Margot are richly and intelligently performed. Nicholas Hoult’s Tyler is fascinatingly self-absorbed and self-important. But Hoult also demonstrates skill as the pathetically needy starstruck pawn balancing awe and compulsion to be liked by the toweringly brilliant Chef Slowik. The entire supporting staff stands out, but Hong Chau’s Elsa, with her unflinching commitment and sly skill at looking down on the guests as she pretends to be looking up. Two other notable performances come in the form of the duo of John Leguizamo’s “movie star” and his subordinate, Felicity played by Aimee Carrero, absorbed in their own facades and low-lying revelations to each other. They’re enormously fun to watch get lost in the chaos of the night’s increasing bizarre violence and madness.

Films like The Menu are a delicious find, impressively weaving tangy thrills and horror herbs with blackened comedy (and I think I’ll leave the plays on food there), portrayed by a fine cast clearly having fun and giving it their all.

Video: 4.5/5

3D Rating: NA

The Menu is a good-looking Blu-ray. Framed at 2.35:1, The Menu enjoys and is filled with close-frame shots of actors and food, showing of a range of beautiful colors and strong contrasts. Black levels are very good, details equally good, and while the film excels under the daylight sun and the comfortably lit restaurant as the sun falls to night, even the scenes outside the central restaurant interior location do well. iMDB lists a 4K digital intermediate and watching the film you can see the potential for what HDR grading could offer in the colors from the wider color gamut and the black levels. Still, this 1080p Blu-ray is still a winner.

Audio: 4/5

The 5.1 DTS HD Master Audio on The Menu works well for almost the entire film, but in the early scenes the dialogue in the center channel was too low suggesting an error in the mix. This is noticeable as the guests arrive on the island and hold their pre-restaurant conversations, but this oddity abates quickly and once it does the balance for dialogue is good. The light string-heavy score by Colin Stetson plucks and adds tension with the sharp bow on violin and itself has a sense of humor. The chef clap, louder and unsettling by design, carries around the speakers, and the surrounds do well when they are asked to. It all works, but the low dialogue in those handful of early moments may have you temporarily turning on the closed captions.

Special Features: 2.5/5

What’s here for special features are good enough, but they are not enough and running around 23 minutes.

  • 3-part featurette taking a look at various aspects of production (served in courses), featuring interviews with Mark Mylod and members of the cast, production design, renowned chef food creations (and guidance), costumes and more
  • Three deleted scenes

Overall: 4/5

A dollop of cheekiness and a dash of horror trappings punctuate the sweet taste of The Menu, a rich and flavorful creation offering up equal amounts mystery and intrigue laced impressively with the horror/comedy genre framing it’s billed as being. Brought to us alive with impressive performances from the small-ish cast, crafty production design and food creations, wrapped in an air of a film that knows what it is, enjoys having fun with it, and knows exactly where it’s going. Those with a taste for dark comedy artfully presented will gladly wait in line for what’s on offer in this entertaining experience.

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Published by

Neil Middlemiss

editor

View thread (16 replies)

Jeffrey D

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Just blind bought this one. Hopefully I’ll get to it this weekend. Thanks, Neil.
 

Walter Kittel

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Watched this recently (via streaming) and enjoyed it quite a bit. In the past I've used the term 'architecture porn' to describe settings that are appealing and enhance the visual aesthetic of the feature. There is some of that on display at the luxurious restaurant on the Hawthorne, but there is also quite a bit of 'food porn' with some wonderfully presented courses. Speaking of which, I particularly enjoyed the use of Courses as breaks in the various acts of the film. I was quite taken with the visual presentation of the film.

In terms of acting, I thought everyone was fine, but particularly enjoyed the performances from Ralph Fiennes, Anya Taylor-Joy, and Hong Chau.

It was a very entertaining film. Interestingly enough we have three recent films dealing with the subject of the financially elite confronting adversity. The Menu, Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery, and Triangle of Sadness. I have not seen the Triangle feature yet, but probably will complete the trifecta at some point (as Reggie W called it in an earlier post.)


If you haven't seen the film then please do not read the spoilers...

Spoiler #1 :
A good friend criticized the film due to the absence of the patrons not putting up more resistance to their inevitable fates. While I think that is a valid critique, I was more accepting of the plot point given the nature of the film as a dark comedy.

Spoiler #2;
I tend to believe that Margot does not escape the island and eventually dies. 1) We see the scene involving the smokehouse where Elsa explains the aging process and warns of the dangers of beef that cures for too long. 2) Chef says (paraphrasing) that The Menu will only be complete if everyone dies. 3) The boat does not have enough gas to reach the mainland (although there could be other factors at play). 4) The film very explicitly shows Margot taking another bite from the (tainted?) cheeseburger. The smokehouse scene which serves no other real purpose in the film makes me think the cheeseburger was in fact fatal. (???)

- Walter.
 
Last edited:

Walter Kittel

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You don't
cure hamburger
though, do you?

Pretty much what Reggie said, but I'll also add that I thought that Elsa indicated ALL of the meat on the island was prepared in the smokehouse. I should watch that scene again to see precisely what Elsa communicated to the patrons.
Once again, I see no other reason for that scene to be present except to communicate to the audience the possibility of toxic meats.

- Walter.
 

Reggie W

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I think the filmmakers left it up to the audiences for interpretation regarding the ending.

My feeling is:

While Walter's theory could be true and yes, the original plan was everybody there had to die, and the chef tells Margot she will die, she just gets to choose which group she dies with because she should not be there. He eventually deems her to be a shit shoveler and so should die with that staff because she is a prostitute. However, I see the act of preparing her the cheeseburger as the chef's final act of joy. He does it to show he once did and could prepare a meal with love and a desire to make the person he was feeding happy. The years of the type of cooking he has been doing though, has destroyed this in him. So, the opportunity to make the cheeseburger is a positive for him, and so I think this is why he just lets her go. Of course, he had gone mad, so Walter could be correct and he sends her on her way, poisoned knowing she will die later.
 

Todd Erwin

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There is a 4K digital of this film available, with HDR and Atmos at those retailers that support those technologies. If you redeem the Movies Anywhere digital code (which is HD), you can get Dolby Atmos audio when playing on the Apple TV app on either an Apple TV 4K or Roku. AFAIK, the Apple TV app for FireTV still does not support Atmos.
 

Robert Crawford

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There is a 4K digital of this film available, with HDR and Atmos at those retailers that support those technologies. If you redeem the Movies Anywhere digital code (which is HD), you can get Dolby Atmos audio when playing on the Apple TV app on either an Apple TV 4K or Roku. AFAIK, the Apple TV app for FireTV still does not support Atmos.
Yeah, I'm purchasing the 4K digital once it drops in price and will watch the movie again.
 

Noel Aguirre

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Streaming on HBO Max now. Watched it last night. It was good though I’d rather have The Cook, The Thief, His Wife & Her Lover on 4K which it borrows much from and is a better film.
 

Reggie W

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Unlike some other people. :laugh:

I have a rare condition that the medical field has been studying that involves the loss of control of my hands and fingers once I start typing and before I can stop there are just hundreds of words on the page. You can tell when I have taken my medication because I am able to limit myself to under 100 words.