Spoilers would like to have you for dinner.
Look away now. There’s no way I can hide the fact this feature is a horror film. On the menu, we have an appetizer where this movie will start as a romantic comedy and then offer you a turn. The reason why I feel comfortable telling you this, is the film will pull the rug under you right before the title. As much as you’ll want to scream warnings at the screen, I found I mostly found it becomes a tense thriller. We’re going to get into details after the jump.
Fresh (2022) was directed by Mimi Cave and written by Lauryn Kahn. Noa (Daisy Edgar-Jones) is trying to date in the digital age. We’re witnesses to one of her worst dates where the guy ticks every box in the jerk bingo and commiserates with her best friend Mollie (Jojo T. Gibbs) the day after. It’s only when she’s not expecting it that she runs into Steve (Sebastian Stan) at the grocery store being goofy and charming and ends up giving him her phone number. Despite her previous experiences and Mollie’s warnings, she ends up going out with Steve and agreeing to go out of town for the weekend. It’s only after Steve makes her a drink and she starts feeling groggy that we get our big reveal and the title screen.
This is where the movie gives us its early twist, but I feel we can’t really do a review without the actual genre. We’re in for a tense horror-thriller where Noa has to rely on all of her wits to survive. Daisy Edgar-Jones does a great job in the role of Noa. Sebastian Stan shines in his hateful role as the psychopath Steve. They’re both better when playing disturbed and nuanced. Once the confrontation breaks out, the tension escalates while they’re indoors, but once it spills outside I feel both the tension and the characters become unfocused.
Sort of works. We get to see Noa first navigate the digital single scene, and then become a survivor. Steve for the most part is despicable while pretending to be suave and classy only to come out as a sinister later. Most of the gore and horror is implied rather than shown, which I appreciated. I did like how the outcome plays out up to a point but basically once the confrontation moves outside, the confrontation becomes unfocused. The intensity of the final confrontation works best on a closed environment.
Recommended with reservations. There’s film language in advance that tells us where the film is going early if you look for it. However, it’s the confrontation at the end that is built up and tense which I feel works best while it remains inside the house. Once it spills outside, the tension is lost. In a similar way, the characters’ dynamic works better in a cat-and-mouse style on a closed environment but dissipates once they move outside. Yes, this is a horror film so it will make you squirm on your seat. Worth a watch.
That will do for now.