A stylised allegory on the horrors of dating, Fresh feels almost exactly as its title suggests

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By Evelyn Heis, Film & Television Co-Deputy Editor

Picture this: you’re single, in your 20s, you’re pretty and desirable, but everyone you meet is an entitled, misogynistic ass, only interested in hooking up and sending unsolicited d*ck pics. Romance is dead. If this sounds familiar, then I’m sorry to tell you that you’re living in a modern-day horror story, just like Noa (Daisy Edgar-Jones).

Though it was initially released in January this year, Mimi Cave’s directorial debut has resurfaced and blown up on social media platforms, resulting in an array of fan edits and a lot of deserving attention. Is it worth the hype?

Daisy Edgar Jones / Courtesy of IMDB

Following a terrible date, worthy of every eye-roll, Noa is pretty much done with dating, that is, until she meets Steve (Sebastian Stan) amidst a late-night supermarket trip. Who knew you could still meet people in person? Charming, a little awkward, and a family guy- how could anyone resist? Before you know it, Noa and Steve are on a date, trauma bonding over their dead parents, getting intimate, and things are really hitting off.

Despite Noa’s best friend Mollie’s (Jonica T. Gibbs) contentions about Steve being a creep for not being on any social media, Noa decides to go away with him for the weekend. Two days after meeting him. She pretty much walked into that one. Already on the road, their trip is side-tracked due to some (really convenient) weather complications, resulting in Noa having to spend the night at Steve’s: a secluded house in the middle of a forest with no cell service. This is literally a white woman’s Get Out (2017).

Sebastian Stan / Courtesy of IMDB

Alarms and red flags are blaring in every viewer’s heads, but not Noa’s. Things take a drastic turn, as we knew they would, but even then, I was extremely taken aback by the sudden change in tone, atmosphere, and all of the plot twists. I don’t know what I was expecting, but it certainly wasn’t this.

Pushing the boundaries of comedy, taking a satirical approach to rom-coms, Fresh (2022) is a bizarre portrayal of the worst-case scenario of a romance gone wrong. Interwoven with glints of reality that highlight women’s experiences in the dating world, this only adds to the pervasive darkness that is underlying throughout. This is a horror movie whose real horror lies in its realistic portrayal of modern dating, among many other things.

Jones & Jojo T. Gibbs / Courtesy of IMDB

This film is more than unique, in the way that the opening credits didn’t roll until 35 minutes in, significantly marking the shift in the tone, to the way that it synthesised beautiful cinematography and vibrant colours to this macabre genre. Focusing a great deal on mouths, food, and violent gore through uncomfortable close-up shots, this film felt like an unsettling fever dream, a sensation that was only heightened seconds later when those scenes would be contrasted by light-hearted and comical moments.

Normal People’s (2020) Daisy Edgar-Jones gave a brilliant, multi-faceted performance, going from an innocent, hopeless romantic whose sanity descends into that of a crazed victim with a frenzied plan to escape her new beau. In this vein, Pam & Tommy’s (2022) Sebastian Stan played the psychotic romantic interest a little too well, turning himself into a terrifying antagonist, resembling that of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974), Hannibal (2013-15) and Sweeney Todd (2007).

Courtesy of IMDB

Despite all its praise, a lot was never addressed, things didn’t add up, and all in all, it was a very surreal experience, with two-dimensional characters and basic dialogue. That being said, it was fun, entertaining, and compelling, shot with great scenes, colours, and music that made it impossible to take your eyes off the screen- unless you’re like me and you don’t do well with gore.

Even when things just catastrophically exploded in the end, and it felt as if everything had been heightened and the whole film was on steroids, it never ceased to entertain and erupt with more plot twists. I highly recommend going into this film blind, like I did, for a much more enjoyable and unpredictable experience, where you’re not holding the film to any expectations, other than just to amuse.

Featured Image: IMDB


Did you feel Fresh was worth the hype?

AUTHOR

Evelyn Heis

Columnist for the Film&Tv section of the Epigram.