May 25, 2024

FRESH (2022) – Originality in a familiar tale of dating that goes wrong


Rating: ⭐⭐⭐

Fresh takes a fresh (pun intended) look at horror in this stylish thriller about a date that turned sour. Noa is a lonely young woman who doesn’t seem to have much luck finding her life partner through the guys she hooks up with from a handphone dating apps. She suddenly strikes gold when she meets Steve, a charming doctor who picks up on her seemingly by chance, at the vegetables section of a supermarket. The setting is ironic and a bit symbolic given the events that will happen later on.

Director Mimi Cave has done an amazing job here in injecting new ideas on how to tell a rather familiar tale. For a start, she took up over 30 minutes for what can be considered the film’s prologue! Having lengthy prologues before the opening main credits roll is nothing new as we have witnessed in No Time To Die and The Empty Man. This is usually done effectively as the section sets the mood and elevate curiosity of the viewers as to what will happen next. Mimi Cave also refrained from using excessive gore relying instead on leaving the details off screen. Done well, this is often more effective as it leaves the audiences’ imagination to fill in the gap. Mimi also treats the audience with respect by not spoon feeding them with every single detail as evident by some of the background details of what happened to various characters, by just showing us some pieces of information as part of a scene. Finally, we have a symbiotic infusion of some dark humour and romance, mixed with the horror, that never feels forced but just part of the whole flow. The recent reboot of Scream, for example, tried too hard to be clever or funny, it just comes across as being contrived.

Sebastian Stan whom many will recognised as Bucky from the Avengers movies, plays the charmer convincingly. Here is a villain that you wish was not. Daisy Edgar-Jones from the TV series, Normal People, had the harder job of being the naïve Noe who falls for the wrong guy. We can see her subtle transformation from being helpless into someone with a focus plan to escape. I also liked that some of the side characters here are made to do things which were unexpected, rather than follow the usual standard behaviours of side characters.

Fresh is entertaining and succeeds in delivering something that feels different despite its familiar theme. Looking forward to what Mimi Cave can do with even more original material in the future.

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