"Fresh" Film Review
By: Nathaniel Simpson
The dating world in the 21st century is a much different place than it was during the 1900s. Due to the creation of social media and dating apps, people take blind chances on other people, not truly knowing if who they are talking to through a phone screen is who they say they are. There have been many crimes that were committed on blind dates being set up through social media, and Mimi Cave's directorial debut "Fresh", that stars Daisy Edgar-Jones and Marvel superstar Sebastian Stan, does a great job of satirizing and terrifying today's audiences in this modern-day cannibalistic horror film.
The film follows Edgar-Jones' character Noa, who has had a difficult time falling in love with men thanks to the toxicity of online dating and the culture today. However, when she stumbles along Steve (Stan), who is a very clean-cut, old fashioned man who is genuinely nice and normal, she starts to fall head over heels for this mysterious man, prompting them to start a relationship together.
Yet, when Noa disappears, her friend, Mollie (Jonica T. Gibbs), starts to suspect something is wrong. When Steve turns out to be a cannibalistic surgeon who harvests body parts to sell to the highest bidder, Noa is now faced with a game of survival, trying to figure out a way to make it out of there alive before she is the next meal.
I think for her first film, Cave does an excellent job of directing the actors and setting the tone for the entire movie. There are some scenes that are incredibly hard to watch, but she is able to capture the viewer's attention, making it impossible to turn it off or divert their eyes from the screen. Consider the scene where Steve removes Noa's buttocks towards the middle of the film. We don't fully see her remove them, but it keeps a sickening feeling in the viewer's stomach, prompting them to feel their own phantom pain in where Noa's body part was removed.
However, it is also thanks to the two main leads complimenting her amazing directing abilities. I love the performance given by Edgar Jones, as she portrays this girl who is so adamant she doesn't want to date, but ends up falling for a man anyways. Film, in many examples, does a great job of observing and documenting human behavior, which I think they do an excellent job doing through the character of Noa. From the strong distaste in dating during this modern era, it crafts her as this character who has multiple layers, which the viewer wants to pull back and examine as to why she is like that.
Yet, Stan gives the best performance in this film; he creates such a creepy, yet charming character that it is incredibly hard to hate him. He just has the sauve attitude and great personality to be able to pull this role off, as well as being a terrible and creepy person at his core. I definitely think it is quite a shock to see him like this due to the many Marvel films he has been in, in which he plays the fan-favorite Bucky Barnes/ Winter Soldier. On a side note, outside of this film, Stan has proved his acting chops even further in the great Hulu series, "Pam and Tommy", in which he plays the infamous Mötley Crüe drummer during the most infamous time of his life. So, not only can he play the eye candy and the crazed rocker in cinema, but he also does an excellent job at playing a deranged serial killer.
The film, I think, gives a near perfect amount of gore and disturbing material, but I do think it goes too far sometimes. They rely heavily on a montage which shows rich and famous people eating human flesh, including a BDSM relationship between a man and a woman that seems like it depicts the man eating human feces. Even though it is not confirmed if that is what's on the plate or not, the whole scene leaves a sickening feeling to the viewer. I do understand greatly why there is such disturbing imagery throughout this movie, but it does seem like the filmmakers do go a little overboard with the disturbing and shocking aspect of this film.
For Cave's first film, I definitely think she delivered a great satirical horror film with some great actors involved. Not only are they able to terrify audiences and make them think twice about going on that date with the person they met on Tinder, but are able to entertain and make the viewer laugh at certain things throughout the film. To be honest, if they weren't able to cast Stan or Edgar-Jones in this role, I wouldn't be certain if this film would have worked or not. Thankfully, we don't have to think about that, and instead get to experience the work of a new director who I'm sure we'll be seeing lots of in the future.