The horror/thriller genre continues to be a very successful way for young directors and writers to quickly abandon business cards. So is Fresh, a warning sign (figuratively) of fresh and great acting for the dating population.
Nothing seems more terrifying to me than sacrificing a few nights of your free time a month, or worse, a few nights a week, to obsessively find the right one. But many do these days, because Tinder exists and society thinks you’re better off with two. Noa (Daisy Edgar-Jones, Normal People and War of the Worlds) rejects that philosophy, and after a bad date, she does it again with the “app”.
But then she meets plastic surgeon Steve (Sebastian Stan, Falcon and the Winter Soldier) at the local supermarket. We clicked right away, and Noa was glad she got to know someone so casually. The two fell head over heels for the other. When he suggested a weekend getaway, Noa didn’t hesitate. His best friend Mollie (Jojo T. Gibbs), on the other hand, is more reserved.
Two parts of the medal
That was about the first half hour of Fresh , which then took a completely different turn. Already when the first reaction came after its premiere at the Sundance film festival, audiences were advised not to read anything about thrillers. In an age of social media where even the biggest movie magazines are leaking new movies right away, it’s often worth the effort, but give it a try.
The feature-length debut by director Mimi Cave and the second film by writer Lauryn Kahn are challenging, both on a narrative and visual level. They find a way to translate the figurative trappings of online dating into a plot that really makes you shudder at times. It’s an allegory for the fact that the superficial way the more the relationship starts can also cause more damage than a few boring nights. In the old days (I sound old) you were often judged by an acquaintance, and you could never see someone again without them knowing a lot about you. Today most of us can be found by searching.
While I wouldn’t exactly describe Fresh as a horror film, it’s not a film for the sensitive soul (or stomach). Aside from the disagreement over who Steve really is, it’s best to predict how the film will continue. However, it doesn’t really matter because you want to see how Noa handles the dark discovery and how she will deal with Steve. It produces scenes that are quite exciting and sometimes even surprising.
Without good casting it will be difficult to sell this kind of story. Fortunately, the makers have thought about this very carefully. Daisy Edgar-Jones emerges as the new scream queen for our time. Her looks often have something sweet to them, but she can also be tricky and that contrast works really well here. Personally, I can totally relate to Noa, who believes that everyone should value friendship more than romantic relationships. He bonds well with his best friend and, unlike in many other thrillers, he makes almost no stupid choices. They tried to anticipate, but Steve outsmarted them.
Anyone who knows me knows that I may be biased, but Sebastian Stan is the lead in this role. Steve was instantly captivating, but his wide smile distracted him from his early warning eyes. After Pam & Tommy and The 355, he was once again cast as a toxic man who not only excels, to remind men and women of his hateful, learned behavior.
Fresh also looks like this. Cinematographer Pawel Pogorzelski also makes Hereditary and Midsommar visually appealing. High saturation and warm colors in combination with lots of close-ups, sometimes extreme and timely add real value to the story. Add to that the infectious poppy soundtrack and you have a successful thriller.