By Natasha Porter
Online dating is bad and modern culture treats women like slabs of meat. This is the ultimate message of Mimi Cave’s directorial debut Fresh. A cross between Get Out and Promising Young Woman but without the subtlety or tension, Fresh is a dark-comedy thriller that follows Noa (Daisy Edgar-Jones), an unlucky in love 20-something whose dating life is quite literally like a bad film.
We first meet Noa on a particularly cringe encounter that painfully displayed everything that could possibly go wrong on a first date. This scene was a bit too on-the-nose to be satirical but was a good representation of how dire the dating world can be, which is important for later in the film. After a series of bad experiences, Noa meets Steve (Sebastian Stan) in the supermarket and he is everything that she could ask for. He’s smart, charming, and actually takes the time to listen to her during their dates, which – as seen at the beginning of the film – is hard to come by in the modern dating world. The story continues as a typical romcom, despite the somewhat awkward conversations between Noa and Steve.
However, rest assured, this is a horror film. After the jarring tonal shift 30 minutes into the film when the opening credits finally roll, it is impossible to not feel a chill as Steve’s true intentions are revealed. The twist is shocking (maybe not so shocking if you’ve seen any of the branding for the film) but unfortunately not enough to carry the film for another hour and a half. After the initial jaw-dropping moment, the plot moves in a largely predictable manner and it is not difficult to guess how it will end.
Despite this, the performances from both Daisy Edgar-Jones and Sebastain Stan make it an enjoyable watch, even though the pace is too slow at times. The ending is predictable yet satisfying, but unfortunately leaves some questions about the partially-explored side plots unanswered.
Overall, Fresh was more conceptually disturbing than visually, which could be disappointing for fans of more gory horror. In addition, the somewhat haphazard commentary on the dating world throughout ultimately fell flat. Fresh teases at ideas but never fully commits to exploring the themes, making the film less impactful than other social commentary horrors. Conceptually, Fresh is an interesting film with very convincing performances but it suffers from poor pacing and predictability. It is definitely worth watching, but not as meaty as one would expect.
Hi, I’m Natasha! I’m from London and I’m a MSc History of International Relations student. I like to write about music and film. I also enjoy pretending to be a cultural critic by over-analysing reality TV. You can find me on instagram @stopnatasha and by email N.L.Porter@lse.ac.uk