Messed up and memorable, Mimi Cave’s FRESH combines the horrors of modern dating with actual horrors, featuring a pair of memorable performances from Sebastian Stan and Daisy Edgar-Jones.
Edgar-Jones stars as Noa, a young woman who is flailing in the dating world. The dates Noa does go on feature unappealing men who don’t understand her. One day, shopping for groceries, Noa runs into Steve (Stan), a handsome and charismatic doctor. They exchange numbers and go on a fun date, leading to a hookup.
Spending an increasing amount of time together, Noa agrees to go away for the weekend with Steve. When Noa informs her outgoing friend Millie (Jonica T. Gibbs) of her plans, she warns her due to Steve’s lack of a social media presence. When Noa arrives at Steve’s secluded house, he informs Noa of his unusual appetites, which Noa must attempt to navigate.
The first 30 minutes of the film and the remaining 90 might as well be separate. It is very difficult to discuss the last 90 without spoiling anything, but let’s just say that things get dark and gory. Limbs are lost, games are played, and food has not been presented as beautifully or disgustingly since Hannibal.
The film subverts many horror/slasher expectations while still giving occasional winks and nods at the genre. Despite the film not being overtly comedic, there is a lighter tone that otherwise is absent from horror/slasher films. This is mostly due to Stan’s characterization of Steve.
Edgar-Jones has a tricky role as Noa. Her frustrations with the dating scene can make her seem naïve and vulnerable, but in reality, she’s just fed up. Edgar-Jones plays the mental exhaustion well while also purposely keeping her intelligence hidden in smart ways. When she is finally able to spring into action, it is completely believable.
Stan excels as Steve. Despite his good looks and middle-school hair, he is able to exude likeability and loads of charm while maintaining a glint-eyed darkness. Stan has always seemed right on the verge of breaking out as an actor and Steve might be the perfect role to suit his sensibilities. He doesn’t shy away from being ridiculous, while also keeping a level of sincerity rarely seen in these types of roles.
With her feature debut, Cave should hold her head high with FRESH. Not only is it a fun genre exercise, it shows the world her potential across multiple genres. Along with Edgar-Jones and Stan, audiences should have plenty to cheer for and wince at.
FRESH premieres on Hulu on March 4