VOD film review: Fresh
Josh Slater-Williams | On 18, Mar 2022
Director: Mimi Cave
Cast: Daisy Edgar-Jones, Sebastian Stan, Jojo T Gibbs, Charlotte Le Bon
The feature directorial debut of Mimi Cave, a veteran of shorts and music videos, Fresh presents certain challenges when it comes to discussing it in the form of a traditional review. The Searchlight Pictures pickup from Sundance 2022 starts off in one lane before veering down a road certain viewers may not be comfortable engaging with or be expecting.
When it comes to reviews of new films, particularly in the social media age, an issue that has triggered frequent debate is the matter of spoiler etiquette. A reviewer needs to talk about enough of a narrative-based work of art to successfully inform a reader about their arguments and ideas – someone who may not have seen the movie in question yet. Some readers like to learn just enough to gauge if the film seems in their wheelhouse of interests, while others like to know quite a lot about what they can expect.
The balancing act is tricky. How much should a reviewer say about just the first act of a film before they’ve said too much? The only thing that would absolutely seem completely fair game in almost any review is talking about opening scenes up to, and immediately after, a film’s title reveal, which are generally within the first five minutes of movies, unless they save their title cards and all credits until the end.
But what to do with a film where the title card and opening credits drop 33 minutes into the runtime? And with a movie where some of the marketing materials, including one poster in particular, have given some of the game away?
Fresh is a film where its success hinges on the elements of surprise and extreme escalation. While there is an air of tension to certain parts of what precedes that 33-minutes-in title drop, the word “Fresh” intruding upon the frame in big letters sees a full pivot into clearly marked genre territory.
Frankly, it does not ruin anything to say that Fresh explicitly becomes a horror film. But part of the fun – in the sense that tension and being made to feel sick can be fun – is the process of learning just how horrible the situation is as at the same pace as the protagonist, Noa (Daisy Edgar-Jones). In retrospect, the overall meat on the bones of the piece might not be as nourishing as it initially seems within the moment. Repeat servings are unlikely to be as successful as the first taste, when the addition of new and strange ingredients provides much of the flavour. But the wild ride involved is quite something.