It’s a great time to be a horror fan. The genre has been thriving for a number of years now, resulting in some of the best horror movies returning to theaters. But the genre is also known for innovation, and one highly anticipated upcoming movie is Mark Mylod’s The Menu, starring The Queen’s Gambit actress Anya Taylor-Joy. And the new horror movie is a perfect recipe of comedy and horror.
While the horror genre is known for blood and guts, some of my favorite entries also feature moments of levity. This includes classics like Scream and recent additions like Ready or Not. The Menu continues this tradition, and ends up being a fun, wild ride. I had the privilege of seeing an advanced screening at the Toronto International Film Festival, and it has quickly become one of my favorite projects I’ve seen at this year’s fest.
As the trailer for The Menu shows, the upcoming horror comedy flick focuses on a group of ultra privileged guests who travel to a remote island for a widely expensive and exclusive dinner– cooked by a celebrity Chef Slowik (played by Voldemort himself Ralph Fiennes). While it’s a gourmet experience, things quickly start getting out of control as the staff and food itself make the guests examine their lives, especially their transgressions.
Every horror movie needs a final girl, and for The Menu that honor goes to the great Anya Taylor-Joy. The Golden Globe and SAG winning actress plays Margot, a non-foodie who joins the dinner with her date Tyler (Nicholas Hoult). While Tyler is a superfan of Chef Slowik, Margot notices that something is off with the restaurant and its staff. Taylor-Joy’s character serves as our entry point to the movie’s wild ride, and gives a captivating performance as one might expect from the accomplished 26 year-old actress.
As The Menu’s title suggests, we follow as various courses are served to the motley crew of privileged guests. The entire movie is structured around the meal itself; each course gets its own title card with a detailed description of the food. While that framing device starts off like a cooking TV series, the descriptions get more ridiculous as the dinner spirals into chaos, making for plenty of delightfully comedic moments. Combined with the razor sharp screenplay by Seth Reiss and Will Tracy, the movie is equal parts funny and scary. On top of the horror elements of the movie, there’s also plenty of hilarious social commentary related to class and privilege. What’s more, The Menu goes into the culture of the service industry, specifically for cooks and back of house staff. This comes after Hulu’s The Bear made a kitchen into the main setting of its drama. As such, it’s an accessible addition to the horror genre, even for those who don’t particularly love scary movies.
The cast of The Menu is partly why the movie succeeds so well, as every single person in the ensemble (including featured background actors) are fully committed to the movie’s unique tone. Aside from the leading actors Anya Taylor-Joy and Ralph Fiennes, the supporting cast is full of familiar faces. That includes Watchmen’s Hong Chau, Ozark actress Janet McTeer, film icon John Leguizamo, Broad City’s Arturo Castro, and the great Judith Light. Each of them get moments to shine both comedically and dramatically throughout the movie’s 106-minute runtime.
The Menu will hit theaters on November 18th. In the meantime, check out the 2022 movie release dates to plan your next movie experience.