For many who celebrate the holiday season, food is often one of the highlights. Lots of families have Christmas feasts to celebrate the season, both in big ways with extended family and friends, as well as intimate gatherings for only a few. But as is common for the holidays, stress often wins out over pleasure as interpersonal and toxic family dynamics come to a head when everyone sits down to eat.
Mark Mylod’s ‘The Menu’ seems to be set in early spring or fall based on wardrobe choices. But it has a lot in common with many Christmas dinners gone wrong, even if it takes the general discomfort to the level of mass murder.
Chef Julian Slowik (Ralph Feinnes) is a haute cuisine artiste who caters to the most elite of the elite. And he has crafted a special menu for all the people he believes contributed to his loss of love of his art of cooking. The menu is death on high concept, fancy little plates. No, there’s no poison. It’s all much more calculated and painful than that.
Mirroring Jesus’ last meal with his deciples, ‘The Menu’ has its own Mary Magdalene in sex worker Margot/Erin (Anya Taylor-Joy) and it’s own Judas in Tyler (Nicholas Hoult), the one sycophantic fan of Chef Slowik who knew every detail of the menu, and brought a date even knowing she would die. Like Judas, Tyler meets his end at the end of a rope for his betrayal. We also have three not-so-wise men and their financial fraud. King Herod in the pretentious has been actor played by John Leguizamo, channeling his inner Steven Seagal. Ciaphus appears as a duo in Saveur food critic Lillian (Janet McTeer) and her editor Ted (Paul Adelstein).
‘The Menu’ even features an angel who heralds the torment to come in Doug Verrick’s (Michael Neal) denouement. And afterward, Chef Slowik comments on how silent the night is with the man dead.
But really this is a film about trying your very best for people who show no appreciation, as is the complaint of many who shoulder the domestic and emotional labor of preparing holiday festivities. The difference is in real life, those people are mostly women.
✨Broken emulsion/5 stars. Highly recommend not trying to satisfy people who will never be satisfied.✨
Zuzu Zombie’s #Horrorthon365 project is a collection of eclectic genre watchlists with accompanying microreviews to suit the changing seasons. Horrorthon365 was sparked by a gnarly hand injury and carpal tunnel surgery gone awry, hence the flash-style reviews. After a wicked fall at home and brutal elbow fracture that required surgery, posts will be sporadic until I’m healed. In the meantime, browse the entire collection here.