Fresh Movie Review (Spoiler Free)
First meeting, first date, first love… or is it really? Fresh is not for the faint-hearted! Those who think they can stomach a bizarre, black horror-comedy will get treated with a rare diamond of the genre!
Genre: Comedy / Horror / Thriller
Director: Mimi Cave
Cast: Daisy Edgar-Jones, Sebastian Stan, Jonica T. Gibbs, Charlotte Le Bon & Dayo Okeniyi.
Run Time: 114 min.
US Release: 04 March 2022 (Hulu)
UK Release: 18 March 2022 ( Star on Disney+)
German Release: 15 April 2022 (Star on Disney+)
Fresh is Mimi Cave’s directorial debut and a flick that I would have completely missed, hadn’t it been for the couple of trailers that popped up on YouTube. Released in the US in early March on Hulu and in Europe later on the Disney+ channel Star, Fresh is a comedic body horror-thriller that took me completely by surprise, not only because the trailer made me believe to know what was about to happen, but especially because it always outdid my predictions of an outcome, with something far worse and unforeseeable.
… So let’s get straight to it!
Noa has had enough of modern dating. Her belief is that true love is dead and technology killed it! When she meets Steve, a cute but somewhat peculiar and shy guy, in an aisle of a supermarket, her hypothesis about love and romance is tested. Little did she know that Steve has a very peculiar taste. First of all, the script by Lauryn Kahn and its adaptation on screen by Cave is brilliant! The story is not only taking a dig at modern dating, with all its online platforms like Tinder and co., where most people lost their manners and sense of shame (not that I have anything against those platforms, that's how I met my girlfriend). While mean, the third act is partially constructed as a metaphor for horror movie goers who, while being shocked at what they witness on screen, are simultaneously numbed down emotionally.
The screenplay itself is an amalgamation of American Psycho and Texas Chainsaw Massacre, with several unexpected twists and turns built in. For instance, the first 30 minutes are a simple introduction to the film.Iit is after a shift in tone that we get the opening sequence. Everything before, simply leads up to the real narrative and uses elements of an innocent and sweet romantic-comedy, to mislead the audience. My previous reaction to the trailer was that it gave too much away, but the disturbing elements go far beyond anything I expected. It is also frighteningly funny and quirky, but that is as much as I’ll reveal.
The script, however, is not without its flaws. The ending to what is a stunning and unconventional movie, feels bland and very ordinary. Then there are the side -story arcs that have no impact on the main plot and simply detract from the main characters. Other than that, this is a competently helmed, first time directorial debut.
Both leads have amazing chemistry on screen! Sebastian Stan was fantastic as Steve, borrowing much from Christian Bale’s performance as Patrick Bateman! Stan enveloped himself in that psychotic persona that is Steve. Adding to the fact that he actually looks like a genuinely nice guy, made him so much more creepy. He also used terrific bodily comedy, acting a little campy and bizarre in a lot of his gestures. I don’t want to go into too much detail though.
Daisy Edgar-Jones served us with another fantastic performance in this horror-thriller. She plays Noa, who comes off as very sweet and innocent on one hand, yet has a side to her that is simply unreachable and surprisingly unpredictable. Edga-Jones managed to juggle those two sides of her character immaculately and gave Noa not only depth but a lot of credibility, as well as strength.
Jonica T. Gibbs and Dayo Okeniyi also star in this picture as Noa’s best friend Mollie and her barkeeper acquaintance Paul. While both of them gave fine performances, their side stories do deviate too much from the more intriguing main plot.
This film's real brilliance, though, lies in the camera work and visual storytelling! We get a lot of wide shots with clever hints of what to expect, such as signs, posters or pictures in the background. However, the most intriguing shots used are extreme close-ups on specific body parts, which are used as visual metaphors and foreshadowing. There are a million little clues and puzzle pieces to find throughout the picture and it is riveting! Fresh is also very careful as to how much gore it shows. While there are scenes that are definitely disturbing to see, it also swerves away from other sequences that could have been even worse, to let the viewer's imagination take over.
As far as effects go, lens blurs and fish-eye lenses were used to convey unease and terror, with notable results. The colour palette was also carefully selected, to suit the mood and atmosphere of the movie. The different shades of yellow, red and orange really underline the core narrative, while intensifying feelings of distress. Finally, the make-up effects look great and very realistic. All in all, visually, this flick has done everything right from the beginning!
Verdict: Mimi Cave's directorial debut is certainly something special and unconventional, but not for the faint of heart. This is a film that challenges the audience’s feeling of discomfort and at the same time eases up that tension with dark, campy humour. The script is well handled, even if some side accounts could have been left out. Daisy Edgar-Jones and Sebastian Stan are phenomenal together and gave great performances! However, the real star of this quirky horror tale is the cinematography. It’s not only beautifully shot, but the amount of attention to detail given to specific objects in the background, and the play with extreme close-ups and quick-cuts, is something that I won't forget so fast. I can recommend this unusual body horror picture to anyone who thinks they can stomach a disturbing, humorous, thriller with gore! I will give Fresh a firm 8.0 out of 10.
Have you seen Fresh? Do you agree with my review or did you think it was too much to handle? Leave a comment and subscribe for more reviews. Thank you for reading!