Mimi Cave’s ‘Fresh’ felt like a hollow promise


Photo courtesy of IMDb

“Fresh,” starring Daisy Edgar-Jones and Sebastian Stan, explores the horrors of modern dating.

*Spoilers ahead*

Unfortunately, when I virtually attended the Sundance Film Festival virtually, I missed a few films that got a lot of attention. “Fresh” by Mimi Cave was one such film. Fortunately for me though, the film recently was added to popular streaming site, Hulu.

The aspect of this film that generated the most buzz and put it on the radar of many festival-goers was its thirty-eight-minute-long introductory scene. After watching the film, I can say — the opening lived up to all the hype.

The film begins with Noa (Daisy Edgar-Jones) going on a disastrous date and giving up on using dating apps to find a partner. Luckily for her, while at the grocery store, she meets Steve (Sebastian Stan) and the pair connect instantly. After going on an excellent date with Steve, Noa accepts an invitation to visit his remote vacation home where a dark secret is revealed.

This extended opening puts you on edge the entire time, and when we finally learn that Steve is a cannibal that plans on strategically dismembering Noa, it comes as a genuine surprise.

Throughout the opening, there is some incredible cinematography and some excellent needle drops from artists like Blood Orange, Karen O and Blackway. Unfortunately, around the forty-four-minute mark, the film begins to derail itself.

After Noa’s friend Mollie (Jojo T. Gibbs) begins to investigate Steve, we cut back to the basement where she is being held. Loud music can be heard playing upstairs and what follows is a bizarre and goofy scene of Steve processing the meat from a woman’s leg while dancing.

After an incredibly tense intro sequence, the film decides it wants to become a comedy and completely kills the tone it was originally going for. I’m having a hard time understanding why this scene and a few others like it were placed into the movie.

Unlike other contemporary feminist films I’ve seen people compare this one too, like “Promising Young Woman,” and the works of Julia Ducornau, they don’t struggle with tone as much as “Fresh.”

Speaking of comparisons, this film feels incredibly similar both in style and plot to Jordan Peele’s modern horror classic “Get Out.” If I described the film as, a wealthy white person catfishes their partner to go on vacation with them, despite the wishes of their best friend, and ends up almost becoming the victim of an invasive surgery so their body can be sold to wealthy older white people, you wouldn’t be able to tell the difference. Even the climaxes feel incredibly similar as Noa is rescued by Mollie and ends up killing Steve and his accomplice.

I suppose this film just ended up feeling like a hollow promise to me. Unlike its contemporaries, “Fresh” struggles to tell any meaningful message besides men on dating apps suck sometimes.

Even this message is flawed though as Noa doesn’t even meet Steve on an app. There were so many interesting avenues this film could have gone down, maybe Steve could have been a closer allegory for Armie Hammer? Who knows.

“Fresh” is available to Stream on Hulu now.

Rating: 5/10