Directed by Mark Mylod, ‘The Menu’ is a dark comedy film that revolves around the enigmatic celebrity chef Julian Slowik, whose restaurant Hawthorne offers one of the most renowned dining experiences among the elite circles. The film follows a group of wealthy individuals who arrives at the restaurant to savor Slowik’s famed dishes, only to get startled when the chef announces that none of the customers or staff of the place will be able to leave the island alive. Slowik changes his mind only for the sake of Margot Mills, who escapes from the island at the end of the film. But why exactly does the chef let her survive? Let us share our thoughts regarding the same! SPOILERS AHEAD.
Why Does Slowik Let Erin Leave?
Although Julian Slowik unflinchingly announces that he will kill all of his customers, the celebrity chef is not a murderer. As far as he is concerned, Slowik is killing a group of the elite or wealthy class for depriving him of the joy of cooking to satisfy one’s soul and hunger. As a chef, Slowik considers himself an artist. He always wants his “artworks” to satisfy the hearts of his customers, which was a regular occurrence when he was working at a local restaurant, cooking cheeseburgers. When he became a star chef, his clients became members of the elite, who came to his restaurant for boasting about their status and wealth and not for relishing the dishes he prepared.
It doesn’t take long for Slowik to realize that he is catering to a group of people who don’t care about his food. He might have started to think that he is the victim of the wealthy class’ pompous displays, which leads him to kill a group of rich that represents the class. But Margot doesn’t represent this elite class. She is just an escort named Erin hired by Tyler Ledford for him to display his meaningless obsession with food. In Slowik’s eyes, Erin is also a victim since Tyler brings her into the restaurant upon knowing that she will die among the other customers.
However, it isn’t the reason Slowik lets her live while killing other customers and his staff members. Erin is the only person who sees and recognizes the artist in Slowik. While others arrive in Hawthorne and eat his dishes for the sake of boasting their status and reputation, Erin is the only one who treats Slowik as a chef. She expresses that the chef has failed to satisfy her hunger and asks for a cheeseburger, giving Slowik an opportunity to finally cook to satisfy a customer’s hunger rather than for enhancing one’s status. While he makes his chefs prepare dishes for the pretentious group, Slowik makes the cheeseburger for Erin himself since he knows that the dish will be enjoyed by Erin as it should be.
Erin learns about Slowik’s conflict when she sees a photograph of the smiling chef, cooking a cheeseburger. She realizes that he was happy and contented during his early days as a chef, which isn’t the case when she sees him at Hawthorne. She connects the dots and perceives that Slowik is an unhappy man because he doesn’t get to prepare food that conquers the soul and hunger of his customers. Slowik’s unhappiness and discontentment make him a murderer. He is tired of the rich not realizing the value of his “artworks.” Erin gains her freedom by realizing the value of the same.
Cooking for Erin must be the first instance in a long time in which Slowik is experiencing the thrill of preparing a dish. He needs to satisfy the expectations and hunger of a customer, who wants to savor a particular dish, unlike his usual customers, who pretend to like anything he cooks for them. The challenge Erin offers Slowik takes him back to the early days of his career. Slowik doesn’t kill Erin to express his gratitude for giving him a chance to become an “artist” again before he kills himself. Slowik already knows she doesn’t deserve to die and now that she makes him respect himself as a chef, he doesn’t think twice about letting her leave the restaurant or in other words, the murder trap. After escaping from the island, Erin savors Slowik’s “final masterpiece” to her heart’s content as well.