The Menu is a comedy-horror-thriller set in an exclusive restaurant on a private island and it gives the rich a good kicking, like The Triangle of Sadness, except here they manage to keep their food down, mercifully. (At $1,200 a head, you’d hope so.) But the diners are not spared otherwise, and it’s nastily fun, if not pure evil, and should possibly come with a warning: after this, you will never, ever wish to dine anywhere that isn’t Nando’s.

The film is directed by Mike Mylod with a screenplay by Will Tracy and Seth Reiss. (Both Mylod and...

The Menu is a comedy-horror-thriller set in an exclusive restaurant on a private island and it gives the rich a good kicking, like The Triangle of Sadness, except here they manage to keep their food down, mercifully. (At $1,200 a head, you’d hope so.) But the diners are not spared otherwise, and it’s nastily fun, if not pure evil, and should possibly come with a warning: after this, you will never, ever wish to dine anywhere that isn’t Nando’s.

The film is directed by Mike Mylod with a screenplay by Will Tracy and Seth Reiss. (Both Mylod and Tracy have worked on Succession.) The opening sees the group of diners waiting to take the boat over to the island where the restaurant, Hawthorne, is located. One is Tyler (Nicholas Hoult), a super-wealthy foodie and snob who has watched every episode of Chef’s Table multiple times and considers chefs true artists as “they play with the raw materials of life.” (Trouble is, as someone later points out, it’s “art that turns to shit in your gut.”) His date for tonight is Margot (the amazingly huge-eyed Anya Taylor-Joy who lights up every film she is in). She is a last-minute stand-in for the girlfriend who has just ditched him. Margot is not rich and is not part of this world. Margot would prefer oysters without foam or pearls of lemon caviar, thank you very much. (The food porn is fabulous, by the way.) Margot doesn’t understand that before you eat you must first photograph your food for Instagram. And when she finds out the cost per head, she gasps: “What are we eating. Rolexes?”

The island is menacing from the off, with its starkly black driftwood, the scuttling crabs, the maître d’ who may whisper cryptically in a guest’s ear: “You’ll eat less than you desire and more than you deserve.” The kitchen is run by world-famous Chef Slowik played by Ralph Fiennes at his most still which is always Ralph Fiennes at his most terrifying. Everyone is in thrall to Chef Slowik including Chef Slowik, whose ego is monstrous. He implores his diners not to eat the food, but be mindful, taste it. (“It’s too precious to just… eat.”) Emulsions and gels and foams and powders follow and there are moments of the most sublime pretentiousness, such as when Slowik serves his “breadless bread course” because bread is solely for the poor. Only Margot calls this out. “Can’t you see he’s insulting you?” she says to Tyler. He can’t see that, no.

It’s terrifically choreographed, with the kitchen staff all tweezing the same flower on to a dish at the same time, for instance, and as the evening progresses events take a darker turn and then a yet darker turn. I daren’t say much more but will say that if you saw The Banshees of Inisherin and hoped to never see a finger hacked off again you are totally out of luck.

It gives the rich a good kicking, which is fair enough, and it is nastily fun, but it runs out of ideas by the third act and doesn’t appear to have much to say apart from the usual. (Privileged people are ghastly and unthinking, etc.) The other diners include a callous restaurant critic (played brilliantly by Janet McTeer), a Hollywood actor with his mistress, a trio of finance bros, and they’re all stereotypes, pretty much. It’s purely a chronicle of this type of excess rather than a treatise and also it does leave quite a few aspects unexplained. Why has Chef Slowik suddenly turned against his clientele? Why do his staff collude? Why do the diners accept their fate? It doesn’t land perfectly at the end but overall it’s a hoot if you have the stomach for it, and now a tip for Nando’s: do sign up for the reward card, particularly as you won’t ever be dining anywhere else.

This article was originally published in The Spectator’s UK magazine. Subscribe to the World edition here.