Dir. Mimi Cave (2022)
The horrors of dating apps are on display when a young woman falls for a man who runs a business selling the meat of women that he takes captive.
CAUTION: MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS
One of the first movies I watched this year (and well before I started my site back up again,) Fresh is a, well, fresh and fantastic take on the oft-ignored cannibal genre of horror. Daisy Edgar-Jones plays Noa, the unlucky-in-love young woman who has a history of bad dates on dating apps and happens to run across a charming gentleman named Steve (Sebastian Stan) in a grocery store. If you’re anything like me, you really only know Stan from his roles in the Marvel movies (or maybe as Tommy Lee with his big fake member), so getting to see him as an out-and-out sociopath who makes his money selling human meat to the “1% of the 1%” is downright chilling, and he plays the role to perfection. It’s not hard too pick this as my favorite of his roles because The Winter Soldier kinda sucked and Bucky Barnes is easily the worst part of the Marvel Universe (come at me.)
The concept behind the film is horrifying, one of those stories that you have to believe is happening somewhere in the world today. It’s a realistic take on the idea of cannibalism, and has got to be at least twice as expensive as Hello Fresh. The meals in the film are shot as disgustingly as possible, yet somehow the presentation is beautiful, looking very much like the plates you see in fancy restaurants that people wait on year-long lists to get inside. The movie itself is generally beautiful, with gorgeous set design and a sense of style that would be at home in Hannibal Lecter’s estate in Baltimore. Even the “dungeon” in which the women are kept looks fairly comfortable, as Steve apparently tries to take the fresh veal approach with his prey. There’s a certain sense of propriety about, as if the filmmaker tries to present his business as somehow apropos, and he handles every piece of meat with a delicacy and respect that you would expect from the most accomplished chef. Needless to say, this is disturbing on several different levels.
The soundtrack of the film is outstanding, with a selection of songs that is one of the better in recent memory. They don’t always fit with the action on-screen, which makes the film even more jarring. It’s a soundtrack you can put on in the background with a good bit of groove, yet Steve is using it as the chorus with which to destroy. It adds to the style of the film itself, giving it an aura of “coolness” that helps to see Steve as just a regular, fun-loving guy who would be a perfect match for Noa if he just didn’t have that one bad habit… Unfortunately, she finds out quickly that they’re not quite the match that she thought.
The horrors in the film are almost commonplace, as if this is just a business arrangement that needs to take place, and the only difference between this and our regular meat industry is the belief that killing humans is somewhat more immoral than killing other types of animal. Fresh serves as an indictment on the views of the men who use those terrifyingly-common social media hookup apps, and its audience is left pondering the difference between Noa’s initial terrible dating encounter and her subsequent romance with a serial killer. If shitty men can view women as objects, why can they not then view them as a lower part of the food chain? It’s a fascinating (and terrifying) question that becomes all the more important during the “age of the incel,” where I have no doubt you could find more than enough men who would pay just a little bit extra to make sure their meat was female. It’s also an altogether excellent film, one that helped to usher in one of the best years for horror in recent memory.
Who this movie is for: Horror fans, Cannibal movie lovers, Blue Apron subscribers looking for a change
Bottom line: A perfect beginning to an almost perfect year for horror, Fresh is a refreshing take on a genre that last hit its high notes in the 70’s and 80’s. Daisy Edgar-Jones is outstanding, but Sebastian Stan steals the show as the butcher with a great taste in meats. Mimi Cave does an amazing job as a first-time feature director, and I can’t wait to check out her next project. This one is streaming free on Hulu, and if you haven’t seen it yet, I highly recommend you check it out. A great soundtrack, some fantastic performances, and a disturbing and brutal finale are the perfect trio of accompaniments.