Fresh a Deliciously Dark Horror Comedy

This year has promised some big horror movie titles for fans. To date, Scream and Texas Chainsaw Massacre have already dropped. Later in 2022, Morbius, The Black Phone, and Jordan Peele’s Nope hit theatres. And maybe you heard there’s another Halloween sequel coming our way. Still there’s plenty of room for sleeper hits. Just this past Friday, Hulu streamed their new dark horror-comedy, Fresh. Despite its potentially taboo premise, Fresh has already proven to be overwhelmingly ‘fresh’ with critics.

Synopsis

Stuck on dating apps, Noa finds herself on a never-ending carousel of bad date after bad date. Finally, Noa’s luck changes when she meets Steve in the grocery store produce section. Charming, handsome, and successful – Steve seems perfect. But when Steve takes her on a weekend getaway, he shows a peculiar appetite that’s a deal-breaker – if Noa can survive.

Fresh Offers a Unique Blend of Visual Style and Timely Commentary

Like its title, Fresh feels like a surprisingly different take on a premise that initially sounds familiar. In her feature length directorial debut, Mimi Cave aptly juggles dark humor and horror with taboo subject matter. Even with its official synopsis – and a clear feeling that something isn’t right with Steve – Cave sells the sheer shock of the movie’s turning point at the 30-minute mark. And when the title card just appears then you know Cave isn’t afraid to play with genre and film-making conventions. There’s a zippy visual style, paired perfectly with an eclectic soundtrack, that keeps things from sliding too far into the grotesque. But Fresh doesn’t shy away from its horror elements, including plenty of uncomfortable, yet carefully edited scenes. In addition, Cave demonstrates a knack for quiet tension before letting loose in a final act that feels a little too conventional for the movie.

There’s a zippy visual style, paired perfectly with an eclectic soundtrack, that keeps things from sliding too far into the grotesque.

Credit also goes to writer Lauryn Kahn whose screenplay blends in biting commentary on dating and sexual politics. Whether it’s Noa’s first date lashing out angrily when he’s rejected or Steve gaslighting her later when he chides her for ‘overreacting’ to her imprisonment, Fresh is as much about toxic masculinity as it is the perils of modern dating. Beneath the story’s surface, much of the movie illustrates the lengths to which women must go to avoid men’s hostility. We see it in the movie’s second act where Noa pretends to take an interest in Steve’s work to stay alive. But it’s an earlier scene that really drives home the point. Noa gripping her keys as man walks behind her in a parking lot reminds audiences that women live in a more dangerous world.

Fresh Boasts Stellar Performances From Its Leads and Supporting Characters

Two outstanding lead performances further elevate Fresh over similar fare. Maybe 2022 is the year where Sebastian Stan establishes himself as a star in his own right. After several years as the MCU’s ‘Bucky Barnes’, Stan transformed himself into Motley Crue’s ‘Tommy Lee’ for Pam & Tommy. Here, Stan mesmerizes as he balances ‘Steve’s’ disarming affability with his quiet, and occasionally manic, menace. The way in which Stan delivers the line, ‘I don’t eat animals’ should send alarm bells ringing. Kahn’s screenplay also wisely lets ‘Steve’ share just a little about his ‘unusual appetite’ without giving everything away. But Steve dancing to Animotion’s Obsession while packaging his ‘product’ for customers may be Stan’s shining moment.

Maybe 2022 is the year where Sebastian Stan establishes himself as a star in his own right.

While Stan gets to let loose, Fresh tasks Daisy Edgar-Jones with grounding the movie. And Edgar-Jones gives an equally stellar performance as ‘Noa’. In the movie’s early-going, it’s not hard to understand why she would fall for Steve. That is, Edgar-Jones invests the character with an earnestness that makes her relatable. She later sells the confusion, fear and vulnerability as the story shifts. But when the time calls, Edgar-Jones gives ‘Noa’ a strength and resolves that remind Though it’s a smaller role, JoJo T Gibbs nearly steals every scene in which she appears. As Noa’s best friend, ‘Mollie’, Gibbs has a charismatic presence hinting at bigger things on the horizon for the actress.

Fresh Sets Itself Apart Early in 2022 as a Standout Horror Movie

As far as feature-length debuts go, Cave and Kahn knock it out of the park. Simply put, Fresh effortlessly blends grotesque horror and dark humor alongside alongside a clever commentary on modern dating and toxic masculinity. Both Shaw and Edgar-Jones excel in their roles. If Fresh detours a bit into familiar territory in its final act, it still circles back and ends things with a wink. Wider audiences may find the subject matter too off-putting. But horror fans clamoring for something different, Fresh lives up to its title.

THE PROFESSOR’S FINAL GRADE: A

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I am a Criminology professor in Canada but I've always had a passion for horror films. Over the years I've slowly begun incorporating my interest in the horror genre into my research. After years of saying I wanted to write more about horror I have finally decided to create my own blog where I can share some of my passion and insights into the films I love.

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