One Of The Scariest Scenes In The Menu Offers You The Mess

(Welcome to Scariest Scene Ever, a column dedicated to the most pulse-pounding moments in horror with your tour guides, horror experts Chris Evangelista and Matt Donato. In this edition, Chris invites you to try The Mess.)

"The Menu" isn't exactly a horror film, but it has plenty of horrific, shocking moments that keep the viewer both on guard and off-kilter. The premise involves wealthy diners at an extremely exclusive restaurant slowly realizing that this won't be a normal meal. Darkly funny and boasting a killer performance from Ralph Fiennes, "The Menu" announces that things are slightly off almost from the jump, but there's one specific scene where things quickly go to hell, and the horrors of the evening come into focus.

Spoilers for The Menu follow, as well as sensitive, potentially triggering content.

The Setup

Hawthorn is an extremely pricy, extremely exclusive restaurant that operates on its own self-sustained island. The joint is run by Chef Slowik (Fiennes), a renowned chef known for his inventive, out-of-left-field courses. But tonight, the menu is extra special. Because Slowik and his staff have a very special evening planned for their latest batch of customers — a night no one will forget ... if anyone survives.

The story so far

At first, the diners at Hawthorn are enjoying the atmosphere and the fine wine being served. But the courses they're being offered are a little ... strange. For example, at one point they're served something called a "breadless bread plate," which is exactly what it sounds like — a bread plate without bread. The customers begin to grow restless with all of this, but Chef Slowik insists there is a method to this madness. And then he introduces Jeremy, a sous chef who comes out from the kitchen and stands on a recently unfolded sheet of plastic. 

The scene

"Jeremy is talented," Slowik says. "He's very good." But the chef then adds that as good as Jeremy is, he's not great. And he'll never be great. Jeremy, who looks on the verge of tears the entire time, agrees with the chef's assessment of his talents. And then he proceeds to take out a gun and blow his brains out. The guests are understandably horrified, but some of them refuse to believe their own eyes. This must be staged, they reason. This must be some sort of weird piece of performance art. Of course, we, the audience, realize that it's all real — Jeremy just died by suicide, and Slowik and his staff continue to go about their business as if it's perfectly normal. Its here where "The Menu" truly clues us into what the heck is going on, and begins to prepare us for even more dangerous courses to come. 

The impact (Matt's take)

The Menu is one of my favorite movies of 2022 — genre or otherwise — so Chris' selection this week brings me much joy. I'll admit I laughed heartily through a large majority of "The Menu," but that doesn't make this display of "artistic expression" any less horrifying. The Hawthorne's last guests haven't quite grasped the gravity of their imprisonment quite yet, until one of Chef's pupils shows his and his brigade's dedication to their boss' genius. The gunshot rings as loud as foreboding dread because sometimes messages benefit from forgoing subtlety. The Menu relishes its plain-as-day themes about the toxic relationship between artist and consumer, as well as its delicious commentary that holds everyone accountable. It's cynical, sensational, and gut-busting hilarious, but also features one pitch-black adieu as Chef Slowik encourages Jeremy to take his own life rather than struggle to become the next Chef Slowik. It's such a devastating blow — Jeremy would rather be dead than continue his culinary path of pretty-dang-goodness, just not greatness.