In her directorial debut, Mimi Cave provides a fast-paced horror flick that delivers a terrifying message about the world of modern dating.
The film, Fresh, arrived on Hulu on March 4 and instantly gained stellar reviews, including an 82 percent audience score on Rotten Tomatoes. With dark twists and turns that leave the viewer reeling, Fresh is a well-executed social commentary on the fears that can arise at the beginning of new romantic relationships.
The movie centers around Noa (Daisy Edgar-Jones), a millennial looking for love who is discouraged by her bad luck with dating. After a string of bad dates, she meets Steve (Sebastian Stan), a charming plastic surgeon and quickly develops feelings for him. Despite warnings from her best friend Mollie (Jojo T. Gibbs), Noa trusts that Steve is better than the average man and agrees to join him on an isolated weekend getaway where his true nature is revealed. Without spoiling too much, one could say that Fresh is a “meat cute” that’s a bit “hard to digest.”
Fresh is not a film for the faint of heart. In a strategic move, Cave masterfully manipulates the audience’s perception of the story to make the gore even more jarring and disturbing. In the film’s first scene, Noa goes on a date with a misogynist who acts crudely toward her when she rejects his advances. Cave encourages her audience to build trust in Steve, as his manners are initially a relief from the embarrassment and disgust spewing from other men earlier in the film.
Cave makes clever choices to emphasize the sudden reveal of Steve’s genuine self. The opening credits begin 30 minutes into the film, acting as a tone shift that dramatically cuts off what a viewer might think is a romantic comedy. The timing of the credits implies that the true nature of the film, like Steve’s character, is much darker than anticipated.
A true highlight of the film is its thematic message, which remains integral to the story from the first shot to the final credits. The dangers of physical and emotional abuse that are unfortunately all too relevant in the modern day are a constant presence in the movie.
Cave uses a feminist perspective, as the film shows the measures women take to feel safe, including shots of Noa clutching car keys between her fingers and being cautious while walking alone at night.
It is also crucial to note that the female characters are the ones fighting to save themselves in the movie. The film is injected with violence and gore, and female characters face horrific situations with men who are often older and from upper socioeconomic classes. Despite these horrors, the film represents the power, self-sufficiency, and great emotional and intellectual strength of women in determining their own fate.
Fresh delivers a socially relevant message wrapped in a gruesome, innovative story that will leave audience members holding their breath. Stan and Edgar-Jones provide thrilling performances that put the viewer on edge. Cave shows prowess in her craft, spinning a gut-wrenching tale of manipulation, predation, and resiliency of women. The “steaks” are high, and the outcome is delicious.
Featured Image Courtesy of Searchlight Pictures