The Menu Review: Overstuffed yet Underbaked

The Menu has an interesting premise with well-executed atmospheric horror but its shallow commentary, cheap characterization, and monotonous plot make this “Eat the Rich” movie as enjoyable as an elaborately prepared but forgettable meal.

Twelve people are invited to an exclusive fine-dining restaurant on a secluded 12-acre island. Chef Julian Slowik, a well-renowned chef, commands his crew like foot soldiers to deliver a $1,250-worth dining experience. But as each dish is served, it becomes clear that the guests will be paying with more than just their credit cards.

Like, the “Triangle of Sadness” and “Glass Onion”, it’s another riff on the “rich assholes go to a remote location and get their comeuppance” story. The Menu delivers an intriguing restaurant thriller in the beginning.

We’re introduced to a bunch of rich snobs representing different types of the elite – a wealthy old couple (Reed Birney and Judith Light), a trio of obnoxious tech bros (Arturo Castro, Rob Yang, Mark St. Cyr), a pompous food critic and the editor who coddles her  (Janet McTeer and Paul Adelstein), a smarmy Hollywood star and his assistant (John Leguizamo and Aimee Carrero), and an insufferable foodie with his date (Nicolas Hoult and Anya Taylor-Joy). The tour before the meal tells us they’re full of themselves.

While Slowik’s right-hand woman Elsa (Hong Chau) shows the guests the local source of ingredients on the island, Saveur food critic Lilian states it’s a “biome of culinary ideas” while Paul suggests it’s an “epicurean salon” before agreeing with her. Margot stands out as the voice of reason calling it for what it is – the “base camp of Mount Bullshit”.

They’re led to the restaurant – 6 tables with a full view of a sleek kitchen with marble countertops. Slowik makes a loud clap to get their attention and introduces each course with pretentious monologues, like telling people not to eat but rather “taste, savor, relish“.  Each course gives us hints about the head chef’s motivation.

Unfortunately, once that motivation is revealed in the middle of the movie, The Menu loses steam. Rather than make clever use of the mystery that it has already built upon, the film chooses to play it straight and explain everything, none of which is enough to make the punishment fit the crime.

It doesn’t help that they’re directed at a cast of easy targets. At some point in the movie, Slowik wonders why none of them fought harder, which makes you realize that its shallow satire is an excuse to stage its horrors. They’re well-executed, but watching a bunch of generic assholes getting yelled at and being forced back into their seats gets tiresome.

Ralph Fiennes does his best to sell this movie. The audience stand-in, Anya Taylor Joy, serves as a special effect with her big eyes. The movie is well-acted, but you’ll have no one to root for or against because even Slowik is a miserable snob, so none of the characters spark any emotional investment.

The Menu is a forgettable claustrophobic thriller with a thin coating of satire, ending with a half-hearted conclusion.

The Menu


The Menu is a claustrophobic thriller let down by shallow commentary, cheap characterization, and a tiresome plot.

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