Let’s Talk About the WTF Ending of ‘The Menu’ (2024)

As The Menu, director Mark Mylod’s chilling send-up of the world of exclusive fine dining, hurtled toward its dramatic ending, something in my brain broke. After almost two hours of being completely terrified — Ralph Fiennes is cold and chilling as chef Julian Slowik, an egomaniac driven to violence by his obsession with culinary perfection at his restaurant Hawthorne — I started laughing uncontrollably. (Note: Major spoilers for the ending ahead.)

Finally, after torturing his guests and letting the woman he sexually harassed stab him in the leg, chef Julian’s vision becomes painfully funny. As his diners watch on in horror, kitchen staffers artfully scatter the restaurant’s dining room with graham cracker crumbs and various sauces. And then, Julian lights the restaurant on fire as the diners turn themselves into human s’mores. Yes, s’mores. They willingly don marshmallows and pour chocolate over their heads, and the whole thing goes up in flames. When I first realized what was happening, I felt like I finally understood what The Menu was about. And now, I’ll attempt to unpack the twist ending of The Menu and why it actually somehow actually works.

Why do the diners in the film willingly do this to themselves?

The pure chaos of this scene — who among us doesn’t want to watch John Leguizamo and Judith Light turn themselves into s’mores — is coupled with the absurdity that the diners are all but willingly participating in their own deaths. Collectively, the diners trapped at Hawthorne never really try to fight back against chef Julian or escape the island. After a few mealy-mouthed protests at the beginning of the meal, mostly of the “do you know who I am?” variety, they accept their fates.

It seems as if the characters — all rich people who’ve rarely experienced discomfort in their lives — just play along because they simply cannot fathom what’s happening to them. They’re automatons, moving from one plush experience to the next, and chef Julian’s plot has, essentially, caused them to glitch.

What is the film trying to say by turning everyone into human s’mores?

After years of serving wealthy, privileged people, Julian would want to get back at them in an especially humiliating way: And is there anything more humiliating than being forced to prepare your body for consumption? After watching these characters behave in the restaurant and learning about their indiscretions outside of it, The Menu encourages us to root for their demise. While you’re thinking, “Wow, he really is turning these assholes into s’mores,” you’re also kind of excited to see what happens next. That seems like a pretty obvious consequence of living in a world where a few people can pay $1,000 for dinner at a place like Hawthorne, while countless others wonder whether they’ll have any dinner at all.

Where the hell does an idea like this come from?

According to Mylod, the dish itself an emulation of chef Grant Achatz’s legendary tabletop dessert at Alinea (which, for the record, does not involve any self-immolation). “When I joined the project, one of the big things I wanted to change about the script was to have this more operatic ending,” Mylod told Eater. “We wanted to end this meal with a bang, and so we did a lot of research on how to make the specifics of the dessert elements work.”

Okay, but why s’mores and not like, a baked Alaska?

This seems like an explicitly practical choice. It seems much more difficult to coat people in ice cream and meringue than it does to simply ask them to put on marshmallow suits and pour chocolates over their heads. Realistically, though, it’s probably a send-up of food snobs who think that s’mores suck.

Does this twist actually... work?

It’s certainly unexpected!!! For two whole hours, you have really no idea how this dinner is going to end. There are points where you almost get the sense that Margot — who’s revealed to be a sex worker and not a member of the upper crust like the rest of the diners — might be the hero and figure out how to save everyone. In a more traditional horror flick, you might expect for each diner to be murdered in some way that’s directly related to their bad behavior — maybe the tech bros get killed by a computer or the philandering politician is offed by a mistress. But chef Julian’s decision to host a massive human bonfire feels both appropriately cinematic, and appropriately restaurant-y. Doesn’t every chef want to end the evening with a perfect dessert?

What’s the deal with Margot’s burger?

Before she escapes the island on a boat, Margot asks chef Julian to make a cheeseburger for her, giving the audience one tiny glimpse of the human behind the monster. Julian smiles, and allows Margot to leave. She boards the boat with a doggy bag containing half of that cheeseburger, and the last thing we see is Margot taking a big bite of the burger as she watches Hawthorne burn to the ground from a safe distance away. But she does hear a faint clap just like chef Julian’s as she bites into the burger, which could indicate that he’s done something sinister to her survival snack.

Let’s Talk About the WTF Ending of ‘The Menu’ (2024)

FAQs

Let’s Talk About the WTF Ending of ‘The Menu’? ›

The ending of The Menu reveals that Chef Slowik burns down Hawthorn with the guests inside as a punishment for their excessive wealth and pretentiousness. Chef Slowik's plan is to make his shallow and disconnected guests feel powerless and embarrassed before they die, highlighting the industry's elitism.

What was the point of the ending of The Menu? ›

By the end, the surviving victims fully accept their death and understand Erin's freedom. Erin is the outlier, the person who doesn't understand this world that she's been dragged into and refuses to acquiesce. The film frames the chef as an artist and a person who provides a service.

Why did Margot order a cheeseburger? ›

Margot eventually sees eye to eye with the chef and realizes that he yearns for the gratification of the early days of his cooking endeavors. Margot connects the dots and asks for The Menu cheeseburger because she understands it would remind Slowik of the time when he genuinely enjoyed cooking.

What is the message in the movie The Menu? ›

The film is not only a satire of food snobbery, critiquing patrons with heavy wallets and no discerning palettes, but also an examination of the inherent power imbalance between waitstaff and diners in any service industry and a more personal exploration of what it means to trade the pure joy of artistry for the ...

Why was Felicity killed in The Menu? ›

For example, personal assistant Felicity is killed for the fact she went to the Ivy League Brown University and has no student loan from it. Her murder is thus made part of the plan without clarifying whether this is because she got a scholarship, or because she comes from wealth.

What did chef whisper to Tyler? ›

Slowik presumably whispered that Tyler would not only never earn his praise, but also was no longer considered worthy of being "part" of his menu. That was, perhaps, a fate even worse than death for Tyler, leading to his suicide before The Menu's ending.

What does the cheeseburger symbolize in the menu? ›

The cheeseburger itself is a symbol of the thing that reminded Slowik why he began cooking, and how he fell in love with it.

Why did Tyler hang himself in The Menu? ›

Tyler Hung Himself After Being Humiliated By Chef

After the failed cooking demonstration, Tyler proceeds to be reprimanded by Chef Slowik.

Is Margot actually Claire in The Menu? ›

Margot is actually a sex worker whose real name is Erin. It's established Erin has well-paying clientele because Richard, who frequents Hawthorn with his wife, has hired Margot before.

How did Margot know Richard in The Menu? ›

When Margot hesitates, Julian decides for her, saying he knows his upper-crust customers from fellow service-industry workers. It is revealed that Margot is an escort named Erin, who has been hired before by Richard (explaining them staring at each other all night), and who Tyler has hired for the evening.

Why did chef let Erin leave? ›

Den of Geek writes that the clap we hear as she bites into her burger might hint that the meat is poisonous. That's why Slowik let her escape: he knew she was going to die anyway after eating the burger.

Why was the chef's mom in The Menu? ›

How The Chef's Mother Represents Sloth In The Menu. The only time Chef Julian's mother gets the spotlight in The Menu is when he recalls his traumatizing childhood. Throughout the rest of the movie, his mother is either sitting alone and drinking or lying lifeless on her table.

Who is Mr. Leibrandt in The Menu? ›

Reed Birney plays Richard Liebbrandt.

Who is the fallen angel in The Menu? ›

During the fourth course, sous-chef Jeremy kills himself. When Richard tries to leave, the staff cuts off his left ring finger as a warning to stay. Slowik arranges for Hawthorn's angel investor Doug Verrick, to whom Slowik relinquished ownership during the COVID-19 pandemic, to be drowned in front of the guests.

Why did Margot survive The Menu? ›

What the film essentially boils down to, then, is that Margot is the only guest who is able to see past the pretension to something a little more meaningful – and this is why she is spared. The Menu is now streaming on Disney Plus.

Who is the villain in The Menu? ›

Chef Julian Slowik is the main antagonist of the black comedy/thriller 2022 film The Menu. He is the head chef of highly-acclaimed restaurant Hawthorne. He was portrayed by Ralph Fiennes, who also voiced Rameses in The Prince of Egypt.

What is the whole point of the movie The Menu? ›

The film itself was an allegory that speaks to how much social media and the world of self-professed "foodies" have contributed to the bastardization of an art form that takes master chefs years of training and experience to excel at.

Why did Tyler hang himself The Menu? ›

Tyler Hung Himself After Being Humiliated By Chef

After the failed cooking demonstration, Tyler proceeds to be reprimanded by Chef Slowik.

What was the moral of The Menu? ›

In the movie's final moments, it emphasizes that Slowik, for all his moral righteousness, is just as broken as his customers. They've been ruined by a culture that loves food for all the wrong reasons, and the only way to escape is not to play.

What is the purpose of The Menu? ›

A menu is a detailed list of options offered to the customer when they come to eat or drink at the restaurant or bar. They offer a wide variety of choices, and are priced differently based on the ingredients used, time taken to cook the dishes, or the season and availability of ingredients used.

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