Massachusetts Daily Collegian

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A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

Sebastian Stan plays a new kind of unfeeling killer in Hulu’s “Fresh”

Lovers of gory movies with charming serial killer antagonists will enjoy this Hulu gem
Courtesy of Fresh’s official Facebook page

In “Fresh,” Noa (Daisy Edgar-Jones) is a woman who’s decided she’s done with dating, until she meets Steve (Sebastian Stan), a charming man who appears to be the partner she’s looking for. The two become closer and closer until Steve invites her to go on vacation with him, assuring her they’ll merely stay at his house for the night. After being drugged by Steve, Noa wakes up chained to his basement wall and finds out his plans with her are less than innocuous: Steve is a murderous cannibal. Not only that, he plans on selling the parts of her that he doesn’t eat to other human meat connoisseurs on the black market. Although Noa’s situation seems hopeless, it appears as though Steve has taken a particular liking to her. Will this be enough to help her get out of there in one piece?

Both Stan and Edgar-Jones are fantastic in the film. Their chemistry–at least in the beginning scenes before Steve’s true intentions are revealed–is done so well you almost forget what kind of movie you’re watching. Stan’s future prospects in the Marvel Cinematic Universe are foggy, yet I predict he’ll become a much more prominent actor in movies outside of the Marvel umbrella, possibly some Best Picture-worthy ones. I can certainly see Daisy Edgar-Jones landing big roles outside of BBC dramas as well after witnessing her acting chops in “Fresh.”

One complaint I have about “Fresh” is that it feels full of wasted potential. The movie clearly tries to flesh out Steve by allowing him to be (relatively) sympathetic to Noa, yet there’s not enough time devoted to his character for him to be fully three dimensional. Because of this, Steve comes off more as a generic bad guy rather than an antagonist that’s truly unique. It made me think “Fresh” could possibly be made better by following the “American Psycho” route and telling the story (at least partially) through Steve’s perspective.

Additionally, for a movie aiming to be a skin-crawling cannibalism thriller, it felt like it could have done way more to explore the concept. The thrill of the film would be better fleshed out if Noa’s reactions to getting mutilated over time were depicted, this would have made the movie much more terrifying and memorable in my opinion. Throughout the movie, we meet other women who are being held captive by Steve, yet the movie doesn’t quite show their side of the story until late in the third act. It’s for these two reasons that, despite being a nearly two-hour film, “Fresh” feels rather shorter than it should be.

The Mimi Cave directed movie also takes a bit too long to get to the meat of the story. This issue could have been improved by cutting away some of the fat at the beginning (pun intended in both cases.) There is too much time devoted to the buildup of Noa and Steve’s relationship before she’s taken prisoner. The opening scene with Noa’s failed first date with another guy could have, and probably should have, been cut out entirely. The audience already knows what the movie’s about, so at some point it just feels as though you’re staring at your watch waiting for the plot to actually unfold. Even the movie itself seems to make this painfully obvious: the title card and credits don’t appear for a full 30 minutes.

Despite dragging in the beginning, “Fresh” certainly does pick up, especially near the ending. My favorite part of this movie is without a doubt its violent, bloody, and all-around gratifying conclusion. I was certainly on the edge of my seat, and the performances from Stan and Edgar-Jones made the last few scenes even more entertaining. The kitchen scene is truly exciting and is what makes “Fresh” absolutely worth watching.

“Fresh” can come off as pretty campy and cheesy, yet in this movie’s case, it adds to its charm. It’s best not taken as a horror movie, but rather a gory thriller with comedy elements. Lovers of gory movies with charming serial killer antagonists will definitely enjoy this Hulu gem.

Will Duffy can be reached at [email protected].


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