New Hulu movie provides ‘Fresh’ take on horror genre

Written By Tia Bailey, Co-Features/A&E Editor

4.5 Globes

What starts as a meet-cute (or meat-cute) in a grocery store soon turns into every woman’s worst nightmare in Hulu’s new thriller.

Sebastian Stan and Daisy Edgar-Jones star in the deliciously unique take on horror, “Fresh.” Noa, played by Edgar-Jones, is a young woman struggling to find a significant other in the modern day world of dating apps full of ‘Chads.’ When a conversation about cotton candy grapes with a handsome stranger turns into a relationship, she lets her guard down and takes her best friend Mollie’s advice, throwing caution to the wind.

Steve, played by Sebastian Stan, plays the perfect, dangerously charming antagonist with a unique appetite for life. He strikes up a conversation with her in person, he’s funny, and he seems too good to be true. But Noa decides to not overthink it for once – which proves to be a dangerous mistake.

The first half hour of the film acts as exposition, with the title card and opening credits appearing at the 33 minute mark. This is where the horror element of Fresh begins in earnest.

The cinematography and score of Fresh are masterful. The close shots of characters’ features, American Psycho-esque psychopath singing and dancing while he’s doing psychotic things scenes, and the harsh back-and-forth of funky ‘80smusic to mellow, eerie indie songs make for an unsettlingly awesome viewing experience.

A part of what makes this movie so sickening is the relatability of Noa. Going on bad dates with men who make rude remarks about her clothing, holding her keys between her knuckles while walking alone to her car at night, the horrors of unsolicited inappropriate photos and “U up?” texts are all everyday occurrences for some femmes living in this day and age. The movie effectively confirms all of our worst-case scenarios for meeting strangers and somehow makes them even more horrifying.

Even if you think you have a strong stomach, this film sneaks in and changes that. The plot and imagery are gruesome and stomach-churning. Combining actual fears with seemingly outrageous horror scenarios makes it all seem more real, and each element makes for a fantastic horror film. Additionally, the attention to small details is crucial. There are several plot points that seem to imply something but aren’t fully explained, leaving a few things up to interpretation.

Alongside the obvious commentary of the modern dating world and nerve wracking experiences women face day-to-day, there is also a slight commentary into what Steve refers to as “the one percent of the one percent.” He states that their appetites come from having so much money that they want something that no one else can have, that being human meat.

The one downside of an otherwise almost perfect movie is the rushed ending. For the amount of buildup it takes to get to the title sequence alone, the last 15-20 minutes seem not as carefully thought out as everything they worked so hard on leading up to it. As disappointing as the ending was, the last frame alone makes up for it, along with everything else good about it. The list of characters is small, Noa, Mollie and fellow captive Penny are easy to resonate with and root for, and Steve is a horrific joy to watch.