Photo: Courtesy of Searchlight Pictures. ©2022 20th Century Studios All Rights Reserved

Director(s): Mimi Cave

Writer(s): Lauryn Kahn

Cast: Daisy Edgar-Jones, Sebastian Stan, Jojo T. Gibbs, Charlotte Le Bon, Andrea Bang and Dayo Okeniyi

Reviewed by: Ian Evans on

Release Date(s)

Mar 4, 2022 - Hulu/Disney+

Mimi Cave’s Fresh goes from rom-com meet cute to dark comedy thriller as a young woman’s new boyfriend takes an all-consuming interest in her. Noa (Daisy Edgar-Jones) is tired of the online dating scene. App after app, she swipes right and left, never knowing who she’ll end up with. After one particularly bad date — the pompous hipster doofus tells her to bring cash for dinner and laments that girls don’t wear dresses on dates anymore — she tells her best friend Mollie (Jojo T. Gibbs) that she’s done with the scene. Everyone knows, at least in rom-coms, that you find what you’re looking for when you’ve given up looking. Noa meets Steve (Sebastian Stan), a surgeon who awkwardly meets her in a grocery store and asks for her number. After a great first date, they begin seeing each other and their chemistry seems perfect, despite best friend Mollie’s warnings of red flags. The story quickly takes a turn when they go away for the weekend and Steve instantly goes from charming and disarming to harming and alarming.

Cave makes an interesting artistic decision here, with the titles and opening music not appearing until the point where things start to go awry. This boldly states that the opening was preamble and now this is where the real fun begins. Cinematographer Pawel Pogorzelski’s shots at times put us into a funhouse of horrors and excesses.

Edgar-Jones is perfectly restrained, yet totally engaging as Noa. Tired and weary of the dating scene at the beginning of the story, she transitions into a woman taken with Steve’s charms, but then transforms into a wily adversary when the story takes a turn for the worse. Her restraint is matched by Stan’s almost over-the-top performance. He too transforms over the course of the film, starting off as the produce aisle sweet-talker and then becoming a monster driven by desires and cash. Stan’s magic here is the ability to sell us on a character who can dance while doing unspeakable deeds and not come across as campy. Gibbs’ Mollie could be the outdated and clichéd rom-com staple of “sassy Black sidekick” but Lauryn Kahn’s script and Gibb’s performance don’t allow that to happen, tossing that aside to show us a resourceful, loyal, and loving friend who will put her life on the line when the situation calls for it.

Fresh, which is available on Hulu and Disney+, isn’t just a cautionary tale about dating in the modern world, it’s also a feast for those who like their horror served with a side of dark comedy.