Nicholas Hoult’s loaded fan boy Tyler is one of those foodie types who gobble up such drivel. For him, food isn’t about sustenance or even flavour. It’s about “the mouth-feel”, he tells his bemused last-minute date Margot (Anya Taylor-Joy).
Satirising haute cuisine isn’t difficult. But The Menu doesn’t just serve up laughs. After directing 13 episodes of TV drama Succession, Mark Mylod knows how to skewer the rarefied world of the super-rich.
The key flavour is black comedy but he also cooks up mystery and suspense with a soupçon of pulpy horror.
As with every Agatha Christie whodunnit, we begin with introductions to the well-heeled main players.
A pretentious food critic ( Janet McTeer) notices a “neediness to the plating”; a fading Hollywood star ( John Leguizamo) talks about “entering the presenting stage” of his career; a gang of arrogant city boys laugh about milking their expense account; an older couple (Reed Birney and Judith Light) sit down for their 11th joyless visit.
Margot is a last-minute replacement for Tyler’s ex-girlfriend. As the only one who isn’t swallowing this nonsense, she serves as what pretentious film critics call the “audience surrogate”.
Mylod puts the tension on a slow simmer as the evening takes a series of disturbing turns.
When Slowik introduces a drunken Slovakian lady as his abusive mother, we’re not sure if this is part of the “concept” or a sign Slowik’s trademark theatrical pre-course speeches are becoming increasingly unhinged.
As a satire, it’s not exactly subtle. But this stew of sharp lines and bloody thrills makes for a thoroughly satisfying night out.
- The Menu, Cert 15, In cinemas now