THE MENU (2022) is a psychodrama/dark comedy centered around a meal served at the most exclusive restaurant in the world called Hawthorne. The venue is situated on an isolated island where the food is locally sourced and only the privileged are invited to experience it.
As a film itself I enjoyed it but most of the shocks would’ve been more effective if experienced live in the theater as an one act play. But after it finished, I couldn’t help a nagging feeling that it reminded me of an older movie. Then it hit me – several of the themes are present in the classic film THE OLD DARK HOUSE (1932). Directed by James Whale, HOUSE shares many of the same artisans that made the early FRANKENSTEIN movies including the director. cinematographer, and many of the actors (Boris Karloff, Ernest Thesiger).
HOUSE starts with a massive storm that forces travelers to take shelter inside an old decaying mansion in the middle of nowhere. There they meet the Femm family who are eccentric, unbalanced misanthropes – some crazier than others.
They reluctantly allow the passersby to stay but with warnings that they may be in danger from their brutish servant, Morgan, played by Karloff.
|Ralph Fiennes, Charles Laughton|
|Lillian Bond, Ana Taylor-Joy|
Now I’m not implying that the producers of THE MENU were influenced by THE OLD DARK HOUSE but anyone that enjoyed the 2022 film would no doubt be entertained by the 1932 film. At a brief 71 minutes, the Universal classic is funny, creepy, and became the inspiration for a slew of haunted house films to follow creating a well-known genre of cinema. Seek it out!