'The Menu': How a real-life dinner inspired culinary horror film with Anya Taylor-Joy & Nicholas Hoult

·2 min read

Lavish delicacies worth hundreds of dollars aren't the only things being served up in The Menu, an upcoming culinary comedy-horror-thriller satire with a serrated steak knife to grind with the super-rich who regularly ingest critically endangered species as a way to flaunt their financial elitism.

Directed by Mark Mylod (a veteran of Game of Thrones and Succession), the movie stars Anya Taylor-Joy (Last Night in Soho) and Nicholas Hoult (Renfield) as an affluent couple who travel to a remote island in order to enjoy a highly exclusive — not to mention expensive — dinner served up by enigmatic gourmand and control freak, Slowik (The King's Man's Ralph Fiennes). As the courses are rolled out, one-by-one, the gluttonous diners with deep pockets slowly learn that the chef and his kitchen staff are up to more than just satiating refined palettes. In fact, it seems as though slow-roasted human might be the centerpiece of the entire feast.

"The idea came from an experience [the film's co-writer] Will Tracy had in Norway," Mylod told Empire for the magazine's October 2022 issue. "He was in a foodie phase, searching for the world's best restaurants, and he was told to go to this quay and 'await instructions.' They'd paid all this money, so they just trusted the experience." Mylod didn't go into specifics, but it's obvious that Tracy made it out of the gastronomic experience alive to write the semi-autobiographical screenplay with Seth Reiss.

"I'm fascinated by the idea of extreme privilege and how it perverts humanity," the director explained. "So while the film is comedic, there are thriller and horror elements, too. I like things you can't easily put into one box." He later added that the film deals with "the strange need we have for things that are more and more exclusive: this idea of the VIP room within the VIP room. In the world of high-end molecular cuisine, that concept has been taken to extraordinary levels."

Hong Chau (Watchmen), Janet McTeer (Ozark), Judith Light (American Horror Stories), Reed Birney (The Hunt), Paul Adelstein (True Story), Aimee Carrero (Blindspot), Arturo Castro (Bushwick), Mark St. Syr (High School Musical: The Musical - The Series), Rob Yang (Succession), and John Leguizamo (Encanto) make up the supporting cast.

Adam McKay — the comedy maestro turned Oscar-winning filmmaker behind socially conscious titles like The Big Short, Vice, and Don't Look Up — produced the movie. Betsy Koch is a co-producer.

Searchlight Pictures will serve up The Menu in theaters Friday, Nov. 18.

Looking for more horror films that will make your spine tingle and blood curdle? You can currently catch Firestarter and Scott Derrickson's The Black Phone on Peacock. Jordan Peele's NOPE is currently playing on the big screen or available to rent on VOD.