Review: 'Fresh' (2022) Dir. Mimi Cave
Updated: Mar 29
The modern trials and tribulations of dating are explored in a directorial debut that shows meeting someone by chance, and NOT on social media, as a dangerous, escalating nightmare...
Fed up of taking dating disasters on social media apps, young Noa (Edgar-Jones) bumps into the cute but awkward Steve (Stan) at a grocery store, and the two hit it off, take a chance, exchange numbers and arrange a first date.
Noa and Steve begin to explore, understand and entertain each other in person and not over phones and apps, much to the suspicion of her friend Mollie (Gibbs) who doesn't trust anyone not on social media.
When Steve takes Noa away for an idyllic weekend break, things slowly start to unravel when Steve's outer shell cracks and the real man behind the smile becomes evident. In a location unknown to anyone else, Noa's once ideal date turns into her worst nightmare...
There's nothing simple about the world of online dating, as demonstrated early on here by Daisy Edgar-Jones and an obnoxious date. In a world of swipe left / right, click here, meet there and receiving unwanted dick pics, sometimes you just want to meet someone the old fashioned way. By chance, and in person. This is exactly what we experience with Fresh and Edgar-Jones who almost gives up on finding true love, before coming across bumbling but sweet Sebastian Stan shopping for groceries.
And because of their well-matched personalities, you are happy to see them spend time together, have a few drinks, share laughs and try to wait for something bad to happen. But it doesn't. At least, not right away as you're sucked in.
The sweet, pure Daisy Edgar-Jones mixed with charismatic psycho Sebastian Stan help make this simple, sinister story both entertaining and disturbing at the same time.
As you're getting into the story, at half-an-hour into proceedings when things start to take a turn for the worst, the titles begin. Talk about a pre-title sequence you forgot you were watching! It's a mix of trippy 1970s Maurice Binder-esque visuals and a distorted score that takes you from a young girl enjoying a romantic drink with her lover, to a young girl shackled to a floor with said lover in full control and laying out the nightmare.
While Edgar-Jones has the right balance of being a true innocent you easily warm to and want to get through in one piece (as best she can anyway), it's Stan who steals the show with his character who allows him to play his best Patrick Bates and Hannibal Lector. Dancing to pulp pop songs while cutting up fresh meat to sell to those willing to pay will come easily when there is always a cool, sinister monster bubbling behind the charming smile. He's the safe bet for horror/thriller film villain, but he does it well so it's not ever going to be a problem.
It's a film that is both horror and thriller, avoiding tropes of either genre to give us something not wholly original, but still entertaining with the right level of careful, gruesome shots and claustrophobic prison-like locations. Director Mimi Cave makes her directorial debut here with a dark tale inspired by similar stories from 1970s thriller cinema.
There is something on the safer side to this film in regards to the content and plot, where it could have been more effective to push a little harder, dig a little deeper and root into characters more. Yet, it does the job and make this watchable by general audiences still delivering some gruesome moments.
Cave uses everything with her team from high and low camera angles, mood lighting, shadow and crisp sound to bring the unsettling character story to life, with a rewarding amount of autonomous sensory meridian response, and a full on slash fest towards the end.
'The Silence Of The Lambs' meets 'American Psycho' in this carefully blended food porn / horror / thriller. Simple, grizzly and grounded by Sebastian Stan having lots of unhinged fun.
'Fresh' is a co-production between Legendary Pictures and Hyperobject Industries