Dating is innately predatory in “Fresh,” a wickedly humorous cannibal romance and dazzling element debut from the director Mimi Cave. Even the operate-of-the-mill rotten blind day that opens the movie has tummy rumbles of menace, with crabs trapped in tanks, chefs slamming knives and ducks dangling in the window. Noa (Daisy Edgar-Jones), a doe-like graphic designer in Portland, Ore., finds herself on the hook to split the test with a dingbat (Brett Dier) who loots her leftover noodles and leaves her experience chewed up and spat out.
This singleton and her cynical ideal close friend, Mollie (Jojo T. Gibbs), consider on their own alert to the warning signals of a lousy boyfriend. But a charming medical doctor named Steve (Sebastian Stan), who scores Noa’s selection in the generate aisle of a grocery retail store, manages to make Noa’s belief, and ours, in the course of two dates and a highway journey. It’s a substantial total of time to savor Stan and Edgar-Jones’s playful chemistry — correct up till Steve medications Noa with a poisoned cocktail, handcuffs her in the basement of his holiday dwelling and announces his starvation for a harrowing evening meal. (The screenplay was penned by Lauryn Kahn, who slash her teeth composing shorts for the comedy internet site “Funny or Die.”) Cue the opening credits which, coming 30 minutes into the movie, are proficiently a prankish declaration that the movie has played its audience for lovesick fools.
Now, the actual heartbreak (and cleaving) starts. Edgar-Jones, who starred in Hulu’s “Normal People” in 2020 and who prospects a aspect for the 1st time right here, can enable her eyes nicely with moist vulnerability and, a beat afterwards, burst into giggles at a joke about taking in breast meat. She performs Noa’s predicament straight. Nonetheless the frame all around her effectiveness is marvelously askew. Cave, the director, is a sharp observer of facts: wet lips, nervous toes, the cocky way Stan performs air guitar on a severed thigh. Comedy sharpens the film’s fangs, as do Martin Pensa’s witty edits and Pawel Pogorzelski’s bold, smart digital camera movements, which stumble and swoon and sometimes somersault to make it definitely come to feel like Noa has long gone by the searching glass of horrible dates. (As a grace notice, the rating incorporates a warbling ballad played on a musical observed.)
“Fresh” desires to do — and say — almost everything. As a result, it can come to feel overstuffed with thoughts. In addition to demonstrating a fluency in horror tropes, Kahn’s script pokes at a dozen modern day mating stereotypes, even obtaining in an elbow at how today’s world-wide-web-savvy lady needs just 5 minutes of social media sleuthing to develop into a 21st-century Columbo. Cave lets the tone waltz from foolish to unhappy and back once more, but neither she nor Kahn acquire into lazy fictions about girls who confidently change into vengeful killers. As an alternative, they keep a conviction that guys have the exact same exploitable comfortable places. “Giving your self in excess of to someone, turning out to be one with any individual else endlessly,” Steve purrs to Noa, “that’s a attractive matter, that’s surrender, that’s enjoy.” No, which is a predator’s dream — and not all predators brandish forks.
Rated R for coarse language, coarse meat and hazy sex. Functioning time: 1 hour 54 minutes. Enjoy on Hulu.