Directed by Mark Mylod, ‘The Menu’ is a dark comedy film that centers around a famed chef named Julian Slowik, who runs a restaurant named Hawthorne. The film follows a group of wealthy individuals who arrive on a private island to dine at Hawthorne, only to eventually realize that they are trapped in the establishment. Astounding his customers, Slowik reveals that none of the people who are in the restaurant will be leaving the place alive. At the end of the film, Slowik kills his customers and staff while putting an end to his life as well. But why does he kill them? Let’s find out! SPOILERS AHEAD.
Why Does Julian Slowik Kill His Customers?
Julian Slowik is a chef who had humble beginnings. Although he didn’t have fame and recognition at the start of his career, Slowik had the satisfaction of preparing dishes to his heart’s content, which is evident in the newspaper clipping Margot Mills/Erin sees in the chef’s personal room. Slowik is a chef that considers himself an artist who created “artworks” that satisfied his customers’ hunger. During the days he had been cooking cheeseburgers at a local restaurant, he used to lead a happy life seeing the contentment of his customers. His life, however, changed when he became a celebrity chef.
After becoming a celebrity chef, Slowik lost the satisfaction he had been getting as an “artist.” He started to cook for an elite and wealthy class, who doesn’t have any regard for his food. The rich individuals, represented by his customers in the film, started to eat his dishes just to boast or display their status and wealth. Rather than experiencing or relishing Slowik’s dishes, the rich have been pretending to enjoy the chef’s creations by spending an atrocious amount of money, only to be included in an “exclusive” club. The realization that his food is not enjoyed but has been used by the rich to enhance their social status leads Slowik to kill a group of customers who represent the class.
Slowik’s selection of customers also conveys his motive. He invites Lillian Bloom to kill her since she is the one who championed his food for him to become a celebrity chef, which killed his joy of preparing food for people who appreciates it wholeheartedly. Richard becomes his victim since he couldn’t even name one dish the chef prepared for him after eleven visits to the restaurant. George Díaz, the once-celebrated actor, walks into his death after pretending to be friends with the chef to boast as well. Slowik doesn’t find it hard to lead Tyler to death because of his meaningless obsession with food.
Out of all his customers, Margot/Erin is the only one who realizes the mystery behind Slowik’s motive. She expresses her desire to send back Slowik’s “pretentious food for the rich” and orders a cheeseburger to satisfy her hunger. Slowik cooks for her and sees her cherishing the food, unlike the other rich customers, which makes him let her escape from the island. Erin gives Slowik an opportunity to cook for one’s hunger which also satisfies the latter’s heart as an artist, which ultimately leads to her freedom.
Why Does Julian Slowik Kill His Staff?
Slowik’s staff aren’t drastically different from his customers. They join Slowik’s team to gain the reputation of working for the celebrity chef. They dream of gaining the talents of the chef to eventually replace him. Seemingly, none of Slowik’s staff members work for the chef for the sake of satisfying the hunger of their customers but for treating as a stepping stone in their career. Slowik may haven’t been able to tolerate that none of his staff members is an artist like he was when he was cooking cheeseburgers at a local restaurant. The celebrated chef’s team members haven’t understood the value of food as artwork, which makes him kill them as well.
As far as Slowik is concerned, his staff members are part of the system that enabled the rich and wealthy to take advantage of food and his reputation for enhancing their status. The same is established with the example of Jeremy Louden, who confesses to aspiring to replace Slowik. The renowned chef makes Jeremy kill himself for not being committed and dedicated to his profession. In addition, Slowik also kills himself before killing his staff since he doesn’t ignore the fact that he is the one who betrayed his own aspirations first.
Slowik doesn’t forgive himself for the change that happened to him. In his mind, he is at fault as much as his customers for propagating a consumer culture that disregards food as an artwork. He begins the mass killings by killing himself because he understands that he is the one who started enabling his customers to pretend to enjoy his food by trading his art for fame and reputation.
Read More: Is The Menu Based on a True Story?