Satire is hard. A really good satire, like “Network,” is one of most enjoyable movie-going experiences, while bad satire, like “Vice,” can be painful to watch. The marriage of satire and horror is not novel, but in “The Menu,” it is handled so expertly that, dare I say, it is delicious.
“The Menu” attempts to skewer that phenomenon that is ripe for picking — foodie culture.
You might call it low-hanging fruit. It tells the simple story of the world-famous Chef Slowik (Ralph Fiennes) who has gathered by invitation 11 people to his private island for a promised evening of a singular culinary experience.
The guests include an older rich couple who are frequent participants in one of Chef Slowik’s tasting parties (Judith Light and Reed Birney), a faded movie star (John Leguizamo) and his put-upon assistant (Aimee Carrero), a food critic (Janet McTeer) and her editor (Paul Adelstein), three young businessmen who work for the tech genius who sponsors Chef Slowik, Tyler (Nicholas Hoult), a young man obsessed with Chef Slowik, and Tyler’s date Margot (Anya Taylor-Joy), a young woman with a secret who thinks the whole foodie thing is ridiculous.
All of these people have been invited by Chef Slowik for a particular reason, which the movie slowly divulges over the course of the evening, with the exception of Margot, which puts the great chef in a bit of a pickle.
The movie is a hoot, as each of these foodie types is allowed to marinate in their own absurdity, with Margot as the stand-in for all those who find foodie culture hard to stomach.
As the film trailer expertly details, this is also a horror film as the true intentions of Chef Slowik and staff come slowly to light. As with any meal, the movie is served in courses, and as each course is served, Chef Slowik’s diabolical plot is slowly revealed. But the plot is really secondary to the wonderful asides that screenwriters Seth Reiss and Will Tracy toss in this absurd salad, from a sommelier who has the right wine for every occasion to the bread course that is, shall we say, a bit airy. When the film finally gets to dessert, let me just say that it was sweetly overcooked.
I really don’t have much s’more to say about “The Menu,” other than I found it quite tasty.