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Some of us are a bit rusty when it comes to the ol’ dating and don’t have the best relationship status, but not since David Fincher’s Gone Girl has a film made me this happy to be single. In her directorial debut, filmmaker Mimi Cave absolutely admirably goes for it in her dark comedy thriller Fresh, which is available on Hulu over in America and here in the UK via Disney+. Yes Disney has a film like Fresh in their archives, and that is a fact I think is well worth applauding and appreciating.
Fresh follows Noa (Daisy Edgar-Jones) a young woman who is starting to think she is not cut out for this dating lark, after a few dreadful dates all set up online. Then, as if by magic (or fate), she bumps into the enormously charming Steve (Sebastian Stan), and their chemistry together begins to instantly sparkle. In fact it almost seems too good to be true, and, as a romantic getaway is planned, Noa is about to find out that this is precisely the case, because there is something seriously off about Steve! I will refrain from going any further because Fresh is a film that, ironically enough, works best going in completely untainted…by spoilers that is.
Fresh was a gruesomely enjoyable, very darkly comic horror thriller, with elements of 10 Cloverfield Lane and the Hannibal TV Series to it. There’s even some of the grosser elements of Tom Six’s The Human Centipede here, though thankfully not taken to unwatchable levels. As this film makes a point, while also – like Eli Roth’s Hostel – suggests that stuff like this could well go on in this warped mad mad world.
Pawel Pogorzelski’s cinematography takes the graphic and nauseating and creates something rather stirring visually, as Cave relishes – pardon the pun – sinking her teeth into this bloody satire on modern dating cultures and the ravenous appetites of the filthy rich. It may not be anywhere near to subtle but that does not make the film any less tasty, even as the onscreen content gets very unnerving and brutal at points, the message is loud, proud and clear, and the film is energetic and very entertaining.
This is in so small part down to some terrific performances, particularly from Stan and Edgar-Jones, whose likeable chemistry together, really makes the eventual shifts in the plot resonate further. While Jonica T. Gibbs really stands out among the supporting cast, as Noa’s close and very loyal friend Mollie, a character who you really root on throughout. The cast are all pretty good actually, even if a few sub-plots start to overcrowd the narrative and characters as the film heads towards its grisly finale, leaving one or two things unresolved come the sudden ending.
Still, Fresh is a compelling watch, with some sinister surprises, that really ought to twang a nerve or two, as it also unexpectedly and successfully tickles a few funny bones. You’ve never seen Bucky Barnes like this before!!
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