The culinary world has evolved pretty significantly over the last few years. In some outrageously fancy and ludicrously expensive restaurants, food isn’t just a way to nourish your body. To some, it’s an existential experience and profound art form that can comment on various aspects of life, not unlike a thoughtful art piece or a well-written film. It’s this recent renaissance in the world of meal preparation that has probably influenced movies like Pig, giving more general audiences a damn good film while also exposing more general audiences to an entire culture that they may not have been aware of.
And as with any great cultural phenomenon, it was only a matter of time until someone somewhere decided to make a horror movie surrounding the topic, and that seems to exactly be the case with Searchlight’s The Menu. Following veteran actor Ralph Fiennes as an eccentric chef and culinary master who has prepared a meal unlike any other for his exclusive clientele at his secluded restaurant. It’s a menu that for lack of a better phrase, is simply to die for.
Before Chef Slowik serves up a deadly meal, here is everything we know so far about The Menu.
The first trailer for The Menu sets up its tone and characters while leaving the plot a bit more ambiguous. Anya Taylor-Joy‘s character seems to be the audience’s “way in” to a culinary world that is so overly extravagant that it borders on the line of absurdity. Though the film certainly gives off the vibe of a horror-thriller, there are certainly elements of dark comedy paired with the feeling of suspense that one would cut with a knife, with Nicholas Hoult‘s character making an erroneous statement about the food he’s enjoying right after Chef Slowik made an extremely ominous and dramatic speech.
When and Where is The Menu Releasing?
The full three-course meal that is The Menu is set to be served exclusively in theaters on Friday, November 18th, just in time to enjoy an evening of great food and psychotic breakdowns with the whole family on Thanksgiving. No word yet on if and when the film will be getting a release on streaming, but given it’s a Searchlight Picture and is not probably a bit too intense for the indie distributors’ new mouse overlord, Hulu seems like it would be the most likely streaming home for culinary chaos.
As any horror movie, fans know, going to a mysterious island located in the middle of nowhere and is owned by an eccentric maniac is probably a bad idea that will result in your audience yelling at the main characters on screen and telling them to not do those kinds of things.
Yet, that didn’t stop young Tyler and his girlfriend Margot from traveling to one such island. The reason why? It’s the home of a world-renowned executive chef by the name of Chef Slowik, of who Tyler happens to be a massive admirer. Tyler himself is a certified foodie and couldn’t possibly turn down an invitation from a chef of such renown, even if Margot doesn’t really understand why this is such a big deal.
Margot and Tyler aren’t the only ones who’ve been invited for this exclusive meal, as some of the wealthiest and highest class people have been asked to attend the restaurant and take part in Slowik’s latest masterpiece. Upon arrival, it becomes astonishingly clear to some of the guests that something fishy is going on here, and it’s not the scent of some poorly conceived sushi. No, Slowik seems to be cooking up something far more dangerous, and it’s only a matter of time until what he has planned comes to fruition.
Leading the charge in the kitchen in the role of director is Mark Mylod, whose previous work shows that he is experienced in telling compelling stories about snobby rich people. In recent years he’s primarily stuck with television rather than film, directing episodes of huge household name series including Shameless, Game of Thrones, and most recently, Succession. Succession executive producer Adam McKay will also be joining his fellow director in a producing role. The Menu would mark Mylod’s first feature film since 2011’s What’s Your Number, so it should prove very interesting to see how Mylod applies his decade’s worth of television experience to a roughly two-hour feature.
Penning the script are co-writers Seth Reiss and Will Tracy. Both Reiss and Tracy have prior experience writing for the popular satirical website, The Onion, so that’s another clear hint of what to expect on the comedic side of this dark satire.
The rest of the crew is filled up by many who are experienced in the horror genre. They include cinematographer Peter Deming (Twin Peaks), editor Christopher Tellefsen (A Quiet Place), production designer Ethan Tobman (The Exorcist), and composer Colin Stetson (Hereditary).
Acting legend and Academy Award nominee Ralph Fiennes is no stranger to playing evil characters, and Chef Slowik is seemingly no different. In addition to playing iconic figures like Rameses in The Prince of Egypt and Lord Voldemort in the Harry Potter series, Fiennes even reportedly faced real life scrutiny after he played the horrifyingly and shockingly evil antagonist of Schindler’s List. Why? Because the character he played was so evil that those who saw it just assumed that Fiennes shared qualities with the figure. If that’s not evidence of how good he is at playing villains, then we don’t know what is.
The protagonist of Margot will be played by Anya Taylor-Joy. Ever since her breakout performance in The Witch, Taylor-Joy has enjoyed a justifiably successful career, with high-profile projects like Split, Last Night in Soho, The Queen’s Gambit, and The Northman. Margot seems to be the most grounded character in the film, rejecting this absurd snobbishness when it comes to food.
The same can’t be said for Nicholas Hoult’s Tyler, who is about as big a snob as it can be when it comes to the culinary arts. Though he didn’t work with Taylor-Joy while filming the Oscar-winning blockbuster, Mad Max: Fury Road, she is set to join that same universe in the upcoming spin-off: Furiosa.
The main cast is finally rounded out with John Leguizamo, Janet McTeer, Aimee Carrero, Judith Light, Hong Chau, Christina Brucato, Arturo Castro, Reed Birney, and Rob Yang.