If you know me, you know that psychological thrillers are my favorite film genre. I’m not entirely sure what that says about me, but there’s nothing quite like thrills that twist your mind so much you’re second guessing your own life choices. What makes a lot of the genre’s films most effective is how entirely plausible the situations start out. This brings us to “Fresh.”
Meet Daisy Edgar Jones’ Noa, a woman who’s so disillusioned by dating app failures that she’s nearly given up on the entire ordeal. Her curiosity in what’s out there and the societal pressures she feels to find someone to connect with only end up resulting in disappointment and unsolicited dick pictures. Cut to the produce section on a late-night grocery store run in which Sebastian Stan’s Steve becomes a cotton candy grape salesman. Who would’ve thought that slightly awkward banter about overpriced niche grapes could become an appealing meet-cute? After some adorably endearing one liners from Steve, Noa gives him her number.
A couple of successful dates later, Steve muses that they should get away for the weekend just the two of them somewhere fun. Noa pauses for a minute. They did only just meet very recently and don’t know each other well, but she’s standing there looking at Steve who’s all cheekbones, jawline, and piercingly attentive eyes. How could she resist? Honestly, after all of the terrible first dates she’s had to go on, I cannot blame her. They venture off to Steve’s house for the night before their surprise trip and the absolute pitch-perfect score by Alex Somers begins with the optimistic fun of a new relationship and subtly veers into something delicately eerie and ominous. Yet the duo is in the front seats smiling, so everything must still be okay, right?
Mimi Cave’s feature directorial debut tightrope walks between curiosity and cautiousness. What starts off as a satisfying slow burn romance morphs into something else entirely haunting, surprising, and disturbingly brilliant. Lauryn Kahn’s super tight script keeps us ravenous for more. No matter how dark it all gets, no matter how much we cling onto the lighter, humorous moments for dear life, the script keeps on barreling forward, ripping us to shreds for all to see. Daisy Edgar Jones does a seamless job at hooking the audience onto Noa’s reluctant fall into a romance that brings her so much lightness in the beginning. We’re introduced to Noa at a moment in her life where she’s defeated by the perceived necessity of romance, so to see her reinvigorated by her connection with Steve is something we instinctually root for. Sebastian Stan’s turn as Steve will come to be one of the defining roles of his career. Steve’s a character who can be intoxicatingly entrancing and manically vague all in one scene and Stan reels you in immediately with his endearing pickup lines coupled with a soft grin that no one could deny.
“Fresh” takes you on a journey so alluring, so terrifying, so curious that you’ll never want it to end. There’s so much discovery, humor, and distortion that everyone will crave a taste of “Fresh” and, once you have it, you’ll never want anything else again.
Now streaming on Hulu.