Sebastian Stan’s starrer, “Fresh,” marks the feature directorial debut of Mimi Cave, who takes you to the familiar territory of online dating where inconspicuous identities are hidden behind tacky one-liners and vivid pictures. There is an element of surprise in not knowing the unknown and reaching out on the first date with just an idea about the made-up physical attributes of the person that you have seen on the online portal. But whether that element of surprise would be pleasant or not, is something that is uncertain.
There is a reason why there has been a paradigm shift in the ideologies of even those who considered online dating, a frivolous affair. Firstly it is convenient, and secondly, with just a swipe, you could grow your social network or indulge with somebody in a romantic manner. Now imagine that you go on a date after matching with an individual on a dating site, and it turns out to be a debacle. Just then, at the opportune moment, comes a guy who does it the old-fashioned way. There is no misrepresentation as he is right there in front of your eyes and people prefer to rely on what they see. What they forget is that your eyes deceive you the most. Often, we end up seeing what we want to and not what should be.
‘Fresh’ Plot Summary: What The Film Is About?
“Fresh” begins with Noa (Daisy Edgar-Jones) on a date with a guy named Chad. The waitress is subjected to racism through Chad’s unlettered and prejudiced behavior. He even audaciously makes a remark about how women in their parents’ generation were more feminine in their approach, subtly implying that Noa should take a cue and dress up like that. But it seemed that the chivalrousness of his parent’s generation didn’t apply to him, or maybe he could choose what he wanted for himself, unlike his female counterparts, who he thought needed guidance once in a while. His eccentric male ego and assertion that he deserves what he wants because of his exemplary persona, are shattered into fragments. He falls from a commanding position to a highly precarious one in just a minuscule second, and the transition is oddly comical.
Noa’s best friend, Mollie, is her biggest cheerleader and somebody she confides in. Often, a person who is not part of the situation has sharper instincts when looking at the nitty-gritties of it, as compared to the one who is there. Noa is captivated by the effortless and straightforward charm of Steve, which she does not consider beguiling even after the several red flags. Mollie has her doubts. In this day and age, she thought, it was improbable that such a man would exist who wouldn’t have any social media footprint.
Things move fast between Noa and Steve. Noa’s faith is reassured when Steve abruptly stops while making love to her and says that they might be moving too fast. The line and the notion behind it were not something that Noa expected to come out of her male counterpart. It confirmed her belief that Steve was not just fooling around. They plan a weekend getaway to a place named “Cottage Grove,” but instead, Steve takes her to his place. He gave an excuse that the traffic was too much and that they could leave early in the morning when there was less traffic. He makes her a drink, just the way she liked it.
For a moment, “Fresh” plays in accordance with your premeditation. Noa’s drink was spiked, and she fell unconscious. She wakes up to find herself chained. She asked Steve if he was going to rape her. And at that moment, your premeditation is sent into remodeling once again.
Major Spoilers Ahead
Who Were Steve’s Clients?
Steve tells Noa in “Fresh” that he wants to trade her meat. It would have been easier for her to digest the fact that he was going to molest her. She doesn’t understand what is happening. The notion of cannibalism is so bizarre that even when she is chained, she thinks that Steve might be just pulling a dark jape. But he is not.
A girl named Penny was in the facility, too, from whom Noa learns that Steve had been doing this for quite some time now. Penny tells Noa that another girl named Melissa was also in the facility and had almost lost her mind.
Noa is still hopeful that she might be able to escape if she is taken out of the cell. But it proved to be her biggest mistake. Not only does Steve pin her down easily, but he also cuts off meat from her backside.
Mollie gets skeptical after reading her chats with Noa. She smelled that something was terribly off. Noa had sent her a picture of a waterfall, which she found out was a stock image. Mollie tries to find out about Steve by searching for a picture on Google that Noa had sent her earlier. Before disappearing, Noah had told her that she had accidentally bumped into Paul, whom Mollie had used to date earlier. Paul was working as a bartender in the café where Noah and Steve had gone for a date. Mollie goes to Paul in the hope of finding some lead. She finds out his address and decides to go straight to his house and also sends her location to Paul if anything untoward happens.
Mollie reaches Steve’s residence and meets his wife Ann, who thinks that there clearly has been some misunderstanding. Just then Steve arrives and tells Mollie that he doesn’t know of any girl named Noa. Just before leaving, Mollie dials Noa’s number, and it rings in Steve’s pocket. Before she could react, Steve hit her from behind. We come to know that even Ann was a victim of Steve, who had somehow rescinded being one and now was living with Steve as his wife.
Steve tells Noa that his clients are the one percent of the one percent. These were the people who could afford anything and everything in the world and, henceforth, wanted something exclusive for themselves. The clientele was symbolic of the ideologies of an intrinsic capitalistic setup. In order to establish their distinctiveness, they were part of this clan that had the privilege of savoring human meat. Maybe it gave them a sense of power and a means to establish their primacy. In my opinion, it was not about the taste or getting addicted to it, as much as it was about the incessant need to feel that superiority.
‘Fresh’ Ending Explained: Did Noa Survive?
Mollie is also brought to Steve’s prison. Noa understands that there was no point in acting impulsive or shouting for help. She comes to know through Penny that Steve never slept with her. It gives her a hint that he might be inclined towards her. While reading a magazine that Steve had provided her, she reads something written in the magazine by a former victim. It said, “If you are reading this, it means that he likes you.”
Noa starts playing along. She asks him questions about how human meat tastes. She shows her curiosity and hides her panic-stricken self. She takes advantage of the fact that Steve likes her. He gives her a dress to wear and frequently has meals with her. On one such house date, things escalate quickly, and Noa goes down for fellation.
To Steve’s horror, she bites him and takes the opportunity frees Penny and Mollie, who were clapped in chains. With painstaking effort, the three girls get the better of Steve, and Noa shoots him in the face. When Steve dies, they think that, finally, the nightmare is over. But just then, Ann arrives at the scene and almost strangles Noa to death. Mollie once again comes to her rescue and smashes her face with a spade.
Fortunately, after Steve and Ann’s deaths, Noa, Mollie, and Penny are finally able to escape, from what seemed no less than a nightmare. The horrors left a lasting impact on their psyche, but the experience would help them to judge people and their motives better in future, maybe.
“Fresh” is a 2022 Horror Thriller Film directed by debut director Mimi Cave.