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Disney+ Review: Fresh

March 4, 2022

By John Corrado

★★★ (out of 4)

The setup for director Mimi Cave’s Fresh is a classic “meet cute” between two people, of the sort that any good romantic comedy should have. Her name is Noa (Daisy Edgar-Jones). She is a young woman who’s tired of the dating game, from swiping right on apps to awkward meetings over food, when one night she meets a good looking guy IRL in the produce section of the grocery store.

His name is Steve (Sebastian Stan), and it’s as if he just appeared as an answer to her prayers. He gets her to try the cotton candy grapes, drops a few cheesy one-liners, and eventually asks for her number, which she gives him with little trepidation. If it sounds too good to be true, that’s because it is, and Noa ignores a number of red flags when she agrees to go on a weekend getaway to his cottage.

As always, there’s a catch, and in this case it’s a real doozy; Noa soon discovers that Steve has, shall we say, a unique appetite, and doesn’t just mean it in a sexual way when he says that he wants to eat her. I don’t want to say any more about the plot of Fresh or where it goes from here, but this should give you a pretty good taste (pun intended) of what to expect from the film, which starts as a somewhat satirical take on the romantic comedy genre before morphing into a gross out horror comedy instead, with many moments specially designed to make us squirm.

It’s a balance that mostly works, pulled off with confidence (the title card drops just over a quarter of the way into the nearly two hour running time, signifying a sharp tonal shift) and more than a few winks to the camera in the form of fun, ironic needle drops. The original screenplay by Lauryn Kahn serves as a dark, cynical commentary on modern dating, a point that gets driven home more innocently over the amusing opening sequence showing Noa’s pretty terrible date with a guy named Chad (Brett Dier) who she meets on a dating app.

The film recognizably combines some elements of Get Out, American Psycho, Raw and Promising Young Woman, and it isn’t quite as, well, fresh as these films that it seems to borrow from. But Fresh still functions as a fairly entertaining dark comedy that playfully mixes a variety of genre tropes. Cave, whose background is in music videos, directs the film with similar visual flair. The cinematography by Pawel Pogorzelski (who also shot Hereditary and Midsommar for Ari Aster), has a cool, sinister feel to it, especially when taking us through the impressive production design of Steve’s intimidating house.

Edgar-Jones (best known for her role on the Irish series Normal People) delivers fine work in the lead, while Stan (of Winter Soldier fame) gets to stretch some more of his acting muscles and show a genuine sadistic side playing a charming sociopath. It’s also worth noting that, despite premiering on Disney Plus in Canada under the Star section (it’s on Hulu in the United States), this is definitely one of the titles that the streamer’s robust parental control settings were designed for.

Fresh is now available to stream exclusively on Disney+ in Canada.

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