By Taylor Donnelly
Boston University News Service
Hulu’s original film “Fresh” has all the makings of a classic horror movie — eerie music, dark lighting, brooding characters and lots of gore. In addition to the classic tropes, it satires a taboo subject: cannibalism. “Fresh,” described as a dark comedy, stars Sebastian Stan and Daisy Edgar-Jones, has an eerie feel and uncomfortably weaves in humor throughout.
Director and writer duo Mimi Cave and Lauryn Kahn were able to create a cinematic experience that was disturbing enough to make you hold your breath. For female viewers, the movie touches on a familiar feeling, the literal horrors of dating. In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Kahn said, “There’s this feeling that I think only women understand. This subconscious way we operate in the world — where we park, do we have our keys, is our friend on speed dial. Things that men don’t think twice about.”
The audience experiences the movie through the eyes of Noa (Daisy Edgar-Jones) who goes on a series of failed dates. Just as she is about to give up, she bumps into the charming and attractive Steve (Sebastian Stan). Noa and Steve quickly hit it off, and the viewer is spoiled with happy montages of them singing and enjoying each other’s company. But this isn’t a rom-com and things quickly take a turn when Steve surprises Noa with a weekend away in the mountains.
Here the movie really begins, and the viewer sees Noa’s best friend Mollie (Jonica T. Gibbs) start to worry for her friend. She tells Noa to proceed with caution, urging her to share her location and to send pictures of Steve in case something happens — a relatable experience for most women. Steve is not the good guy we have fallen for. He takes Noa to his secluded house, drugs her and she wakes up in a locked room. Steve is a cannibal — not just any cannibal, but a high-end human meat distributor. The rest of the movie is filled with the horror and gore we are promised as Steve keeps his supply “fresh.”
“Fresh” falls into the horror-romance subgenre along with other movies, such as “Get Out” (2017) and “Ready or Not” (2019). With “Fresh,” the audience is brought into a girl’s world — afraid of being kidnapped, abused or worse, all while on a date. The worst-case scenario becomes reality with Noa’s love interest being a cannibal. The movie nails the horrors of dating and the fears women have while meeting new people.
This movie is not for the faint of heart. “Fresh” is packed with shots of sawing and cutting open human flesh and subsequent preparation of the meat. Yet during these gruesome scenes, Sebastian Stan is able to keep viewers entranced with his charisma, humor and dance moves. His character, reminiscent of Ted Bundy, is easy to fall for in the beginning and fear his capabilities.
Stunning shots and the chemistry between Sebastian Stan and Daisy Edgar-Jones only add to the charm. Watching a movie about a cannibal has never been so enticing. With slow dance shots, sweet love scenes, and gruesome murders, “Fresh” has it all. Not only is this a must-see, but it is worth a rewatch.