'Fresh' Takes a Bite Out of Modern Dating

Directed by Mimi Cave

Starring Daisy Edgar-Jones, Sebastian Stan, Jojo T. Gibbs

BY Marriska FernandesPublished Mar 4, 2022

Dating in the modern world is a horrifying punch to the gut with an endless line of creeps, and the filmmakers add a fresh spin by biting into the horrors of today's dating scene. It's a meat market out there, and the film depicts that quite literally.

Noa (Daisy Edgar-Jones) is a singleton stuck in the world of dating apps. The film opens with a date who tells her to dress more feminine instead of in oversized sweaters — this first date opening scene is sadly relatable — and grabs her leftovers to take home while making her pay her half. As she runs back to her car after being called a stuck-up bitch, she's left to retreat to swiping on apps that come with unsolicited dick pics.

So when she finally meets a seemingly normal, nice guy named Steve (Sebastian Stan) in the produce aisle like our parents' generation successfully did, she gives him his number and they hit it off. I mean, who doesn't want a meet-cute in the produce aisle?!

He says he's a plastic surgeon and very much an introverted guy. Over dinner, he reveals that he doesn't eat animals – but clearly that doesn't have to mean he's vegan, right? The audience chuckles along with the cheekiness of it all.

Noa's best friend, Mollie (Jojo T. Gibbs), is filled in on this IRL meeting and wants to look Steve up online, but he's not on social media. A red flag in 2022? Mollie seems to think so. When Steve invites Noa to a weekend getaway, she's excited at the prospect and leaves with him. What follows is the last thing Noa expected to get herself into.

The sleek and stylish horror has a rich aesthetic dripped in darker hues, and it's punctuated with haunting, meaty metaphors sprinkled all over the film (for example, the irony of meeting in the produce aisle).

There are quite a few gnarly scenes that are hard to stomach, and the clever use of crunchy-sounding ASMR, meat grinder visuals and chopping meaty bits adds to the nausea. Word of advice, don't be munching on anything while watching this, whether you have a stomach of steel of not.

The dry, sarcastic commentary running through the film is quite impressive — for instance, women being told to "smile" or be "more feminine" is wryly addressed.

Stan is as charming as he is sadistic. It's his relentless charm that makes Noa fall for him when she meets him at the produce aisle. It's what makes her go out of town with him after their brief encounter. Stan clearly relishes the deliciously devious role as he smiles his way through everything, playing air guitar on a fresh leg and dicing up juicy bits for dinner on the marble slab counter. He fits the bill of a true sociopath, and is always one step ahead with tricks up his blood-stained sleeve. If you didn't stan Stan already, you will after this.

Edgar-Jones is a treat as the doe-eyed protagonist, making her first leading role in a film after starring in the popular Normal People series. She keeps her performance simple and straight until the moment she's tested, and she has a remarkable ability to be vulnerable one moment and then giggle at "breast meat" with Steve the next.

Mimi Cave's feature directorial debut, which was written by Lauryn Kahn, is smart, ambitious and hilarious — and often dark and devious. If you have an appetite for fresh, original tales of dating disasters, this is bloody fun. It's not every day you get to feast on a uniquely twisted horror that doubles as a warning of the nightmares of today's dating game.

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