FearTASTIC Vault O’FUN #116
The Menu (2022)
Director(s): Mark Myeloid
Writer(s): Seth Reiss, Will Tracy
Starring: Ralph Fiennes, Anya Taylor-Joy, Nicholas Hoult
Alright, first thing is first; Anya Taylor-Joy, please do me the honor of being my (4th or 5th…probably 6th) celebrity wife. You are incredibly versatile in the kind or roles you take, your eyes are stunning and you have a penchant for taking on roles in some excellent horror flicks. I await your response…
Although this is shall always be the FEARTastic Vault where I can share all my thoughts, adventures, theories on all things macabre, I have other passions as well that contribute as other spices in this wonderful dish we call, LIFE. So speaking of spices (Segway of the year goes to…), I am a fan of the culinary world in the sense that I am obsessed with cooking related shows that follow famous chefs/culinary celebrities. You can catch me watching episodes of Kitchen Nightmares with super chef Gordon Ramsay, re-reading articles/books from Anthony Bourdain, Checking out Youtube clips of Marco Pierre White pick apart food on the Australian version of Master Chef and the list goes on and on (…and on).
There is something about people who are passionate about how food can be beautiful, delicious and tell a story about its history, its chef or both. I love watching the reaction of the people cooking or eating, wishing I was there to enjoy the meal with them or scribbling down the quick-cut steps in an attempt to make a dish myself. I’d like to think there is a correlation to my love of horror and my admiration to be immersed in the culinary world; I think both are a kind of escapist fantasy where there is an authority that controls the fate of a dish/person and the journey is captivating because it makes you think while entertaining the shit out of you.
With the rise of culinary entertainment, it’s almost surprising that a movie like The Menu just came out last year which takes our obsession with food and the people that make it and turn it into a fun and gory ride. This flick, just like a great meal (yes, the food and horror analogies shall be sprinkled throughout this article…damn, did it again), is well balanced and hit all the right notes for a damn entertaining horror flick. The premise is simple and relevant; a world-renowned chef invites a group of people at his exclusive restaurant on a private island but the customers are in for something much more sinister.
The cast takes on their roles with a level of seriousness so that it’s not campy but fun enough that the audience knows their in for a treat. I’ve already gushed about by 6th wife, Anya Taylor-Joy being a heroine with a secret but Ralph Fiennes as the cunning and deadly chef is spot on as an amalgamation of famous chefs that grace our screens. I found hints of Chef Ramsay’s intensity, Chef Colicchio’s confidence and Chef Keller’s discipline in Fiennes performance and it all paid off has be begins unfolding his plans/dishes to a terrified group of customers.
The writing is sharp without it being to “heady” in the sense that the flick never forgot that it’s goal is to have fun with the idea of our society’s obsession with food culture (yes, I do see the irony here) but again, I believe horror is one of the best genres that likes to hold a mirror to current societal norms so the idea of having a demented chef torturing his guests is a nice nod to perhaps taking a moment to enjoy the food and not the message. The movie has some interesting and more importantly, entertaining kills where the gore is never too much but at the same time, there were scenes that made you cringe.
The flick also had a great theme where each dish on the menu would pop up on the screen, no matter how strange or sadistic so the audience can have a laugh at the folks who are suffering throughout the experience. The clever way this movie presented itself was very clear on its tongue-and-cheek goal of making fun of food culture but somehow simultaneously elevating the importance of loving food and not just worshipping its esthetic or its creator. Like a well balanced meal, this balance of horror themes and tones made this an overall pleasure to watch.
Now, having said that, I shall make myself a cheeseburger…but one made with love.
Life is FAR more interesting when we take interest in things that scare us.