Movie #40 2022: Fresh (2022)

I just love it when a film is surprising. There’s not a chance in hell you’d know the tangent this film is about to go on if you didn’t know the plot beforehand, and that’s something that’s really quite rare these days. I’m also that annoying person who works out the entire plot within fifteen minutes 99% of the time, so this was a wild ride for me personally.

Fresh is one of the first original films from the ‘Star’ branch of Disney+ (however, it was released on Hulu in the USA), and I’m glad to report that it’s also the directorial debut of female director, Mimi Cave. (It’s about time that we got some new female directors to admire, right?) Starring Daisy Edgar-Jones (Normal People) as Noa and Sebastian Stan (Captain America: The Winter Soldier) as Steve, they’re a couple who meet as a result of an awkward interaction at a grocery store. And… that’s all I want to reveal at this point.

Firstly, is it just me or does this have weird Killing Eve vibes? Or maybe it’s just the soundtrack… which might be my soundtrack of the year so far, actually. (Especially this song by Karen O and Danger Mouse, if you want an example.)

What’s so refreshing (no pun intended) about this is that it starts off with average rom-com vibes, and then makes a sharp left turn at 33 minutes. As you may recall from the introduction to this review, if I didn’t already know what this movie was about, I’d have been very surprised by it, I think. Even though the pacing is a little off in places, the writing is pretty original, and it does keep some of its original sadistic comedy to it too, even when it descends into gore. 

In terms of the film’s performances, is it weird to say that Sebastian Stan seems like he’s having a fun time here? His performance is extremely and convincingly creepy, of course, yet you can tell he had a blast making this. Daisy Edgar-Jones’ character is massively annoying at times, but the dynamic between the two main stars is really interesting to watch. Jonica T. Gibbs though? It’s completely wild that this is her first movie role. She was brilliant. I hope to see more of her, that’s for sure.

Here’s the thing: this movie has been slightly underrated critically so far. Apart from a little bit of a slow patch in the midsection, Fresh gripped me entirely. There are aspects to it that are very familiar to the horror genre (creepy rich kidnapper, cabin in the woods, gruesome bloody sequences) but it just felt as though the plot itself was really original. Stunned to find out that this is Lauryn Kahn‘s first screenplay because it all feels so confident and solid.

I don’t know, I had a good time watching this one. It was quirky, interesting, and often genre-bending in the way it was crafted. I truly hope to see these female scriptwriters and filmmakers doing more of this sort of thing, because if this is just the start, the future is so, so bright.

Fresh is available to stream on Disney+ in the UK.

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