Film and Plot Synopsis
A couple (Anya Taylor-Joy and Nicholas Hoult) travels to a coastal island to eat at an exclusive restaurant where the chef (Ralph Fiennes) has prepared a lavish menu, with some shocking surprises. (Courtesy of 20th Century Studios)
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‘The Menu’ Movie Summary
Upon arrival on the island, the group is given an extensive tour of the Hawthorn facilities by Slowik’s assistant Elsa (Hong Chau). Elsa notes that Margot was not Tyler’s designated guest as he has recently broken up with his girlfriend. Not long after, dinner begins and the mysterious Slowik appears to introduce each course of the meal. Each of his introductions becomes more and more unsettling as the evening progresses. During the third course, each of the guests are given specialized tortillas with personalized laser-printed images on them that reveal something embarrassing about each one of them.
At the beginning of the fourth course, Slowik introduces the sous-chef Jeremy (Adam Aalderks), who Slowik states is responsible for the fourth course. Slowik makes some insulting comments about Jeremy’s abilities which is followed by the sous-chef shooting himself in the head. The dinner guests become frantic, except for Linda and Tyler. Richard tries to leave, but he is restrained by Hawthorn staff who proceed to cut off his left ring finger as a warning for everyone to make no further attempts to leave.
Not long after, Slowik discusses Doug Verrick, an investor that purchased Hawthorn from Slowik during the dark days of the COVID-19 pandemic. Slowik informs the dinner guests that Verrick is one of the individuals that has stolen his joy of cooking away from him. Slowik reveals that Verrick is hanging over the bay just outside the windows of the restaurant. Slowik has a chained Verrick lowered into the bay where he drowns.
The s’more. The most offensive assault on the human palate ever contrived. Chef Slowik (Ralph Fiennes)
During the next course, Slowik has all the dinner guests join him outside where he makes a confession that he made two unwanted sexual advances towards a female employee named Katherine (Christina Brucato). Katherine rejected his advances and Slowik’s admits to treating her poorly in response. Slowik allows Katherine to stab him in his genitals as he apologizes for his actions. Slowik then informs all the men that they will have a 45 second head start to escape the island before the staff will chase them down. All the men run off except for Tyler who has to be shooed away by Slowik. Slowik then has the women join Katherine for the next course. During their meal, Lillian attempts to gain Katherine’s favor by helping in starting her own restaurant. Katherine reveals that it was her idea for Slowik to kill all the guests and staff. Eventually, each of the men are captured and brought back to the dining room.
Slowik then begins to explain that each of the guests were specifically selected for the dinner because each of them contributed to him losing his passion for cooking or because they make a living by exploiting the work of food artisans like himself. He confirms that they will all be dead by the end of the night, guests, and staff. Slowik pulls Margot aside and informs her that she was not intended to be part of his plan. However, he confirms that she will still die, but she will have a choice to die with either the staff or the guests. Margot is slow to answer so Slowik chooses the staff for her.
Margot eventually reveals that she is an escort named Erin that was hired by Tyler to be his date. She also reveals that Richard was a former client that she stopped seeing because he hired her to pretend to be his daughter while he masturbated. Slowik reveals to the everyone that Tyler was informed prior to coming to the dinner that all the guests would be killed. Yet despite this, he still attended, and brought Margot to replace his ex-girlfriend because Hawthorn would not seat an individual diner. Shocked by his callousness, Margot proceeds to punch Tyler in the face for bringing her.
Slowik decides to humiliate Tyler by making the pretentious foodie cook a meal for everyone. Despite his knowledge of food, Tyler cooks a horrible meal for which Slowik points out all the things that he does wrong during the process. After Tyler is done, Slowik whispers something in Tyler’s ear and the foodie leaves the kitchen area alone.
Slowik begins to prepare for the final course and requests that Margot, whom he has designated as staff, retrieve a barrel that he needs for the dessert from the smokehouse. Slowik states that his assistant Elsa has failed to assign someone the task. As Margot begins to leave the kitchen area, she sees that Tyler has hung himself in a nearby closet. On the way to the smokehouse, Margot sneaks into Slowik’s house where she looks for a way to communicate with someone off the island for help. Margot is discovered by a jealous Elsa who tries to attack Margot with a knife. Elsa states that she was never directed by Slowik to assign someone to bring the barrel to the kitchen and accuses Margot of attempting to replace her. The two women fight, and ultimately, Margot stabs Elsa in the chest with the knife, killing her. Margot continues to search Slowik’s house and finds photos of a young Slowik looking happy as short order cook in a greasy spoon diner. She also finds a radio and calls for help.
A short time later, Margot returns to the dining room with the barrel. A Coast Guard officer (Matthew Cornwell) suddenly appears in the bay and enters the restaurant. Fearing reprisal from Slowik, the guests say nothing to the officer. However, the movie star feigns providing an autograph to the officer and secretly passes him a note for help. The officer draws his weapon and holds Slowik at gun point. However, the officer quickly reveals that he is a line cook in disguise, deflating the hopes of each of the guest.
The ruse is successful in getting Margot to admit to calling the Coast Guard. Slowik changes her designation to guest and turns to prepare the final meal. Margot rises and confronts Slowik for his cooking. She accuses him of failing to prepare his food with love and complains that she is still hungry. A curious Slowik asks her what she would like to eat, and Margot requests a cheeseburger and fries. Slowik is moved by her request and lovingly prepares Margot’s meal himself. As she takes a bite, Slowik watches for her reaction, and Margot praises his cheeseburger which brings joy to the chef. Margot asks if she may have the food to go, and Slowik packages the remains of her dinner in a box and allows her to leave. Margot runs to the Coast Guard boat at the dock and heads out to sea.
Back in the dining room, Slowik reveals that the final course is s’mores. The staff pour crushed graham crackers around the restaurant and on the tables. Each of the guests are decorated with a stole made of marshmallows and hats made of chocolate. Slowik takes a burning ember in his hand and lights the graham cracker on fire. The fire spreads throughout the restaurant and eventually reaches the barrel which explodes and destroys the restaurant and kills all the guests and staff. At sea, Margot stops the boat and watches the explosion. She takes out her cheeseburger and begins to eat it, using the evening’s menu as a napkin.