Equal parts unsettling and humorous, poignant and far-fetched, Fresh offers some disturbing views into the dating world of the present day. Directed by Mimi Cave and starring a fantastic combo of Daisy Edgar-Jones and Sebastian Stan, Fresh delivers some much needed respite from overplayed horror tropes along with plenty of introspection on all the shit women have to deal with when dating.
One of my favorite parts of the film, and what worked really well in a genre-bending type of way, was (yes I'm back to hyping up intros people) the intro sequence! What you get is about a 30-minute intro in which the theme and feel is very much that of a romantic comedy. We're exposed to the plights of dating life as we follow Noa (Edgar-Jones) going on one of the most tragic dates I've ever seen -- it really takes zero effort to be a nice person guys, seriously. She gets judged and insulted on her appearance and then when trying to end the date amicably, she's met with a word hurled much too often from men who think they're some kind of masculine king when in reality they're more worried about your favorite scarf dripping into your leftovers than being a decent human. After a horrible date, Noa also then has to traverse the plane of unwanted dick pics on online dating platforms, the hits just keep coming.
Beaten and tired of all the crap she has to put up with, Noa wanders into the attention of a man named Steve (Stan) at the grocery store, which is where our intro sequence becomes more rom than com. One thing leads to the next and at the end of our 30-minute romance film, Noa gets drugged by the man we once thought was the saving grace to pull her from the horrid cespool of modern dating. Now, is when Fresh really begins.
Starting a film about a woman fighting for her life against a man that sells human meat, solely women, with a montage of dating catastrophes is a really innovative way to slide this gradient across the film. We're exposed to one hellish reality and get our hopes up for Noa's best interests only to have that hope immediately dashed, as she falls into an even deeper hellish scenario. It's a great way to expose the audience to the emotional depth of Noa, and even Steve for that matter, and it allows us to empathize not only with Noa but also her relationship with Steve. Now when we see Noa be told what is happening to her, Daisy Edgar-Jones puts on an emotional fireworks display that is spot on. We'll never (hopefully) know what its like to be chained in a basement having our body parts harvested, but what Edgar-Jones does in a 5-minute scene illuminates the entire rest of the film. She carries this massive emotional burden and unleashes it in a small finite space that blows you away, and I'm honestly not quite sure what else to say about. It's a powerhouse moment and is phenomenally done.
Moreover, the film itself contains quite a few nods to those overplayed horror movie tropes, mainly the close friend puts on the detective hat and saves the day. Fresh puts a big spin on this two times which is hilarious that it overplays an overplay only to yank the rug out from underneath. The first instance being when Mollie (Jojo T. Gibbs) finds out Steve's address and confronts his wife Ann (Charlotte Le Bon) and instead of putting the machines in motion to save the day, she becomes another victim in Steve's schemes. Additionally, when Paul (Dayo Okeniyi) drives to the house where everyone is being held he hears gun shots and in a moment that is actually rooted in realism, runs away from the gunshots.
Similar to Paul running away from the gunshots, Fresh moves against the grain of horror films and delivers a greater message, dating and also shitty people take a lot out of you (literally). It's exhausting and physically debilitating to deal with the constant waves of terrible people and you need to find that close knit group of friends you can rely on. Fresh emphasizes this idea with its badass trio of ass-kicking women that tag team to stop Steve and his accomplice wife.
The ending was also a cherry on top when it comes to comedic timing along with really punching you in the face with a final "here's the theme of the film". This comes when we see Noa's phone light up to a single message from yet another male suitor who employs the worst line of all, "u up?". Further solidifying the idea that after everything Noa, and others go through, there's still more shit to deal with out in the world. Especially all the goddamn Chads.
Okay, I'm laughing as I'm writing this, because I knew the base layer of the film had something to with cannibalism and Sebastian Stan was the antagonist -- so I picked a morbidly hilarious beer, the Mr. Yum Hazy IPA courtesy of Matchless Brewing.
Get it? Pretty funny I know, right?
Mr. Yum certainly deserves his namesake, because this Hazy is especially delicious. It has an excellent balance of citrus flavors, pineapple, orange, and even a little bit of peach or banana action in there as well. The tropical juice flavor paris nicely with subtle wheat flavors and then rounds out nicely with some Chinook and Comet hops. What you get is a flavor packed, light and juicy IPA that I would imagine is just dynamite on a hot summer day. With an IBU of 30 you know its not that bitter either so it bears more of the juicy and tropical wheat profile.
While delicious I will say if you ever meet someone named Mr. Yum, I'd run the opposite direction.
Mr. Yum Hazy IPA Hazy IPA - American | 6.0% ABV Matchless Brewing @matchlessbrewing