Sundance 2022 Review: “Fresh”

Year: 2022

Runtime: 114 minutes

Director: Mimi Cave

Writer: Lauryn Kahn

Stars: Daisy Edgar-Jones, Sebastian Stan, Jonica T. Gibbs, Andrea Bang, Charlotte Le Bon

By Morgan Roberts

Many people are going to compare this film with the 2000 film “American Psycho.”  It is understandable.  Both films take on and subvert toxic masculinity.  However, there is a deliciously wicked side to “Fresh”(2022) that gives this type of horror film an update.  

“Fresh” stars Daisy Edgar-Jones as Noa; a young woman living in a big city and doing what we all do, failing at dating.  We first encounter Noa on a painfully awkward date that certainly hit a little too close to home.  After the date and some time lamenting, Noa meets Steve (Sebastian Stan) at the grocery store.  Everything feels like the set up to a rom-com, when the film sinks its teeth into its real purpose and all hell breaks loose.  

That is about as much of the plot as humanly possible to reveal without divulging the twists and turns.  And you want to experience those twists and turns.  The film boasts some great performances.  Edgar-Jones (in her first post-”Normal People” role) embodies the best parts of the Final Girl in a horror film, while also delivering some biting and witty lines.  Stan’s performance will get likened to that of Patrick Bateman in “American Psycho” but he brings a certain sinister air that felt like an elevation of Cillian Murphy’s performance in “Red Eye.”

Director Mimi Cave and cinematographer Pawel Pogorzelski are a dream team, setting up an equally alluring and frightening atmosphere.  It is understandable to feel that a film that is a metaphor about the ways men terrorize women could be tiresome.  From “Promising Young Woman”(2020) to “Unsane”(2018) to “Scream”(1996), there are plenty of films “Fresh” can join that share topics in the same vein. But what “Fresh” – and all of these films – accomplishes is joining in the chorus of female voices sharing their dissections of the pervasiveness of gender-based violence. If we feel beaten down by the genre, then maybe we, as a society, should examine the necessity for this story in the first place. Why is it we feel a need to examine and re-examine what men do to women? Because for many women, there is nothing more horrifying than a straight man.  


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