The Menu

The Menu

In the day’s twilight, a group of obnoxious super-rich types take a boat to a remote island for dinner.  This isn’t just any dinner, though.  It’s a $1,750 per head dining experience by Chef Slowik (Ralph Fiennes).  Among the guests are Tyler (Nicholas Hoult) and Margot (Anya Taylor-Joy), a couple that doesn’t quite fit.  After they arrive, they are welcomed by hostess Elsa (Hong Chau), whose every smile and glance forebodes something devious is afoot.  Then, when everyone is seated, Chef Slowik appears.  With a firm clap and a voice tinged with growing condescension, he announces a progression of courses that bring delight and unease.  Unlike the rest of the clueless patrons, Margot can tell something isn’t right.  Each course, while immaculately prepared, brings recriminations from the Chef.  Then, shockingly and unexpectedly, things turn violent.  What does Chef Slowik have planned for everyone?  Will they survive until the meal’s final course?

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The Wonder

The Wonder

Set in Ireland in 1862, The Wonder tells the story of a young girl named Anna (Kíla Lord Cassidy) who hasn’t eaten in four months.  Everyone around her considers her to be a wonder.  The town leaders (a priest, a doctor, a landlord and a Lord) want to confirm whether she is a living miracle or not, so they commission English nurse Elizabeth Wright (Florence Pugh) to help watch her to see if she’s actually eating.  Elizabeth knows it’s not possible for a human being to live for that long without sustenance.  William Byrne (Tom Burke), reporter for the Daily Telegraph, also believes the girl is a “wee faker”, but is more interested in who is pulling the puppets strings.  When Lib suspects the girl’s mother Rosaleen is behind the ruse, Lib forbids anyone from interacting with the girl.  As expected, Anna begins to slowly die.  But why would Rosaleen want her own child to die?

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Severance – Season One (Apple TV)

In a future that’s closer than you think, a company called Lumon Industries has invented a technology known as “severance”.  Enabled by a chip that is inserted into the brain, it effectively severs your mind into two selves, referred to whimsically as “innie” and “outie”.  Your “innie” is who you become when you’re working on Lumon’s “severed floor”.  That self has no awareness of who you are outside of work, but it does remember everything else you’ve learned (how to walk, talk, eat, etc.)  When you leave work, you transition back into your “outie”, who has no knowledge of what transpired during the day.  Think of it as compartmentalization on steroids.  If this technology had been invented by Apple, I’m confident they would have called something catchy like “iDissociate”.

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Halloween Ends

In Halloween Kills (the previous entry in this series), Michael Myers escaped certain death when some unwitting firefighters rescued him from Laurie Strode’s burning home.  He then proceeded to lay waste to the entire firefighter squad without breaking a sweat.  While Laurie (Jamie Lee Curtis) and Deputy Frank (Will Patton) recovered from their injuries at the hospital, Michael made mincemeat out of a self-styled vigilante mob led by survivors of the original.  Last but not least, Michael shockingly killed Laurie’s daughter Karen (Judy Greer).  Ends picks up the story one year later.  Michael has not been seen since the prior year, and the town has shifted back towards normalcy.  (Sorry Haddonfield, IL, your town will never be “normal”.)

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Lyle, Lyle Crocodile

Lyle, Lyle Crocodile

What would you do if you stumbled upon a crocodile who could dance and sing? If you’re hapless magician Hector P. Valenti (Javier Bardem), you would make it the centerpiece of a song-and-dance act. Lyle definitely has the singing and dancing chops to be a star, but he suffers from paralyzing stage fright. Before you can say Michigan J. Frog, the act flops on opening night. Having used his home as collateral, Valenti goes on the road to pay off his debts, leaving Lyle a first generation iPod to keep himself company.

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See How They Run

In 1950s London, Angela Christie’s Mousetrap has just completed its one hundredth performance.  American director Leo Köpernick (Adrien Brody) is in town ostensibly to hash out a screenplay with Mervyn Cocker-Norris (David Oyelowo), but the two cannot agree on how to turn the stage production into a movie.  At the afterparty, Köpernick hits on the lead actress (Pearl Chanda), implying that she can get the lead role in his movie for…favors.  This naturally upsets her lead actor and husband (Harris Dickinson).  After a fight, Köpernick is attacked and killed backstage.  Constable Stalker (Saoirse Ronan) and Inspector Stoppard (Sam Rockwell) are put on the case, and together they unravel just how many people had a reason to kill Köpernick.  It’s a classic whodunnit, but like Christie’s stories, the murderer may surprise you.

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Barbarian is a welcome new member of a group of horror movies that makes you think while it scares you.  This subset of the genre includes movies like Freaky, Get Out and It Follows and doesn’t have an official designation that I’m aware of. I collectively refer to them as “brainy horror”, which is lame, I know.  (Impale me on a spike if you must.)  Like those movies, Barbarian is first and foremost a top-notch horror movie, filled with scares and enough disturbing images to fuel nightmares.  It’s also incredibly devious in how it uses your familiarity with the genre to subvert your expectations at every turn.  Most importantly, it earns its place alongside the other noteworthy brainy horror movies by being a very entertaining film from beginning to end.

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