This review contains spoilers
If you’re squeamish, beware. Hulu’s latest original movie “Fresh,” the feature-length directorial debut from Mimi Cave, tries to shock and disturb with its subject matter, cannibalism, but in the end, it failed to surprise me or subvert many of my expectations. The film does feature a fantastic performance from Jonica T. Gibbs as Mollie, which makes the film entirely worth a watch.
“Fresh” hinges on the idea of miraculously finding a good guy in a tidepool of gross, asshole hipster fish that live in the ocean of dating apps. Daisy Edgar-Jones plays Noa, whose chance encounter with the suspiciously funny and handsome Steve, in a great performance from Sebstian Stan, leads to a spontaneous getaway that neither are sure to forget.
Unfortunately for Cave and screenwriter Lauryn Kahn, showing off their knowledge of cinematographic elements felt cliché and unoriginal. The film also didn’t have much shock factor left by the time Noa was drugged and chained up by Steve since the trailer gave away that he was a psychopathic cannibal.
Stan plays Steve with the same sadism as Christian Bale as Patrick Bateman from “American Psycho” mixed with the charm and suavity of James Bond to create the ultimate villain. There is no current Hollywood actor who could execute this role more perfectly than Stan has. Even without the surprise component that this movie so desperately needed, Steve is still such a captivating guy that I forgot to be wary of his established maliciousness.
Daisy Edgar-Jones’ Noa was by no means a bad performance. She’s a great actress and it felt like, for the most part, she gave it her all. Something about the performance comes up short, though. Anyone who knows me knows I’ve seen the limited series that gave Edgar-Jones an immediate and meteoric rise to stardom, “Normal People,” more times than I care to admit, which is why I had such high expectations for her character in “Fresh.”
Excluding Edgar-Jones’ distractingly bad American accent, which often flits between English and American but never quite sounds like either, the native Brit fails to engross me in her character’s story. We’ve all had a miserable time on dating apps, so what makes Noa stand out? Her better-than-you attitude? Her depressing pessimism and then sudden, although obviously short lived, stroke of luck? I don’t know, to be honest.
Noa just isn’t unique enough to be someone I can root for. One of the best parts of her story is when she gets her ass cut off by Steve, which says a lot about how borderline unlikeable her character is. The blame for this unfortunate outcome lies equally on Edgar-Jones, Cave and Kahn.
What did subvert my expectations was actually a subversion in itself: the classic trope of the Black best friend. Usually, these characters are fated to minor subplots and cheesy one-liners, but Mollie ends up becoming the hero of “Fresh,” never giving up in her quest to find Noa. I found her to be just as endearing as Steve, but without the murderous, person-eating tendendencies — big plus. Her presence felt less like a supporting character and more like a second protagonist.
If “Fresh” wanted to live up to its potential, or at the very least its name, I would have loved to see Noa join forces with Steve and become a cannibalistic Bonnie and Clyde dream team that gets taken down by the oh-so-lovable Mollie. Despite its flaws, “Fresh” is two hours of gross, gory eye-popping entertainment and a solid choice for movie night.
Emma Trevino is a senior reporter at the Daily Lobo. She can be contacted at email@example.com or on Twitter @itsemmatr
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