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The Menu: Director Mark Mylod Assigned This Surreal '60s Film As Research For The Cast

Out of all the films that came out in 2022, "The Menu" remains one of the most discussed. It follows the current trend of satirizing elements of the upper class and pointing out the disparity between the haves and the have-nots. While comparisons could be drawn to similar projects, like "Parasite" and "Triangle of Sadness," director Mark Mylod had a different movie in mind when working on the production.

When speaking to Above the Line, Mylod spoke about the preparation process of getting the actors in the right mindset. He explained how he likes getting the actors in a room together to discuss their parts and what drew them to the project in the first place, often bonding in the process. However, he admitted that he did give the cast a bit of homework in preparation for the dark satire: "I also gave them homework, like watching [Luis] Buñuel's Exterminating Angel, where you can see a brilliant example of the diners in that wonderful film going on this journey towards a sense of culpability for their place in the matrix of inequity."

1962's "The Exterminating Angel" is a Mexican film about a collection of wealthy individuals who are unable to leave after a gorgeous dinner party, with chaos soon following. It's also incredibly satirical and allegorical with its depiction of the upper class, almost being seen as a companion piece to "The Menu" in a way.

Mark Mylod drew parallels between The Menu and The Exterminating Angel

Apparently, after the cast watched "The Exterminating Angel," it kicked off quite a discussion, which just goes to show how a film from the '60s still holds so much relevance to this day. This quality wasn't lost on Bloody Disgusting, which did a retrospective of the movie in 2020 and how it still factors into the modern horror landscape. One choice quote from the review states, "More than anything, however, The Exterminating Angel explores the hypocrisy of the social elite and the thin strands of society that keep them from utter depravity."

Those moments undoubtedly aided some of the more depraved scenes in "The Menu," with the film serving as a guiding light for Mark Mylod since the film's inception. "The Exterminating Angel" also came up during Mylod's conversation with Deadline, where he mentioned, "I remember being knocked out by that film when I first saw it. It's an incredible piece of work anyway, but it was specifically the sense of culpability that the diners feel, with the dawning realization of themselves being part of the problem. I wanted to go on that ride with our diners."

Roger Ebert saw the film as a commentary on the ruling class in Francisco Franco's Spain following the aftermath of the Spanish Civil War. It almost goes to show how social strife and political inequality are such common themes they transcend country and time period. While "The Menu" can be found on HBO Max, interested parties should seek out "The Exterminating Angel" by getting a subscription to The Criterion Channel.