Modern romance! For many people, mainly Millenials and Gen-Zers, that means mobile apps where we can swipe right on profiles like they are cuts of meat at the grocery store. Funny enough, newcomer director Mimi Cave adapted that metaphor LITERALLY in her first motion picture: Fresh. There was a lot of chatter online in the movie community about this film newly released on Hulu and Disney+, it got me curious.
Starring Daisy Edgar-Jones (from the hit show Normal People) and Sebastian Stan (our Winter Soldier from the MCU), the movie is Fresh, a “fresh” entry on Rotten Tomatoes in this year’s horror movie lineup. 2022 is just starting, but this will surely still be in my personal favourites when December comes. It’s both fun and thrilling, and I highly recommend it.
*FAIR WARNING – It is impossible to deliver a complete review of this film without going into spoilers. Although this movie is quite funny and lighthearted at times, it is still pretty graphic. Be warned!
The horrific romantic comedy focuses on a young professional in graphic design named Noah (Daisy Edgar-Jones, very good performance!). A single living in Oregon, she goes on dates with complete strangers she met online, using apps. After a date that was awkward and uncomfortable, she loses hope in finding anyone interesting, as she involuntarily collects ‘dick pics’ from potential matches on the app. She confides in her friend Mollie (Jojo T. Gibbs) before she actually meets someone interesting at a grocery store. A little older, quite funny and charismatic, Steve (Sebastian Stan) is a plastic surgeon in the city. After a couple of drinks, the chemistry works well and they start dating. One curious thing, in 2022 that is, Steve has zero social media profiles and it’s quite hard to find any mentions of him online.
Noah will accept a quick invitation for a road trip to the country with him…where she will discover something.
SPOILERS BENEATH – KEEP READING AT YOUR OWN RISK
Behold, Steve is actually a cannibal, who captures women in order to cut them into pieces and sell their meat for an incredible amount of money. As there are creepy and insane rich men in the world willing to pay $30,000 for a meal, Steve found his aspiration in life. Let’s just say Noah is in a difficult situation…
Inspiring editing choice from Mimi Cave here; the opening credits arrive 30 minutes into the film, right after when we understand that Steve is up to no good! This is brilliant and tells us that the movie officially starts. Wait 30 minutes before you get into the ‘meat’ of the movie (pun intended-it won’t be my last one).
Overall, it’s a shame this movie was not produced for the big screen, because it would have been a perfect contender for teenage viewers out for movies on the weekend. The genre is a blend of comedy, horror, romance and suspense, which makes it so much fun! Although there have been many movies on modern dating, rare were the ones that truly show the awkward factor and the true sense of danger that women can feel while meeting a total stranger through mobile apps like Tinder or Bumble. It’s important to give credit to Mimi Cave and actress Daisy Edgar-Jones for that, who plays the depressed single of today perfectly.
As the set design and production value of the film are pretty limited to a few settings, mostly Steve’s cottage in the woods, this film is very ‘theatrical’ in its nature. The real wonder is the chemistry between Noah and Steve, both actors are very good during their numerous conversations. As a ‘wanna be’ Hannibal Lecter with an additional dose of charm that reminds us of Harvey Specter from Suits, Sebastian Stan is both weirdly likable and despicable. That’s a psychological delight for the audience! Of course, cannibalism is a horrible sin and this guy needs a straight jacket, but he is depicted in such a charismatic way that we almost want to forgive a few things (I really say, just a few!). This mind game operates perfectly when Steve is tempted by Noah’s questions about cannibalism, like ‘what does it taste like?’ or ‘how old were you when you first tried?’. So much so that Noah will find herself in a situation where, as a captive, she is presented with a fancy dish…with an unknown meatball on it. Oh my, oh my…that diner scene.
Other than the graphic nature and the violence of Fresh, it’s hard to dislike it. It plays tricks on us where the filmmaker is tempting us to wonder: ‘what we would do in a similar situation, where a life or death scenario is involved?’. It’s weird and fun for all the wrong reasons, and I like it!
Overall, as bizarre as it may sound, this film is sexy and cool and I highly recommend it for the viewers who can ‘stomach’ it (told ya haha). You will find cool vibes from Silence of the Lambs and 500 Days of Summer, but with elements from American Psycho that form a big black cloud over your head. It will make you feel bad for even watching or asking yourself questions. Also, great use of the song Heads Will Roll by Yeah Yeah Yeahs for the end credits, I listen to it on repeat since the viewing.
*Fresh is available for streaming on Disney+ (under the Star Originals section in Internationally) and on Hulu in the United States.