Fresh (2022) | Discussion, Spoilers & Recommendations | Film Review
Fresh (2022) is an American horror-comedy film written by Lauryn Kahn and directed by Mimi Cave. The film stars Daisy Edgar-Jones, Sebastian Stan, Jonica T. Gibbs, Dayo Okeniyi, Andrea Bang and Charlotte Le Bon. It was released on March 4, 2022 by Searchlight Pictures on the streaming platform Hulu.
In the beginning of the film, we are introduced to Noa (Daisy Edgar-Jones), a single woman searching for love via dating applications (apps). She finds herself going on a series of pointless dates with men and yearns for a relationship that is meaningful and exciting. She finds herself losing hope that she will ever find someone worthwhile and laments her woes to her best friend, Mollie (Jonica T. Gibbs).
One night, after discovering she has a serious lack of options in her refrigerator, Noa goes to the local grocery store to stock up on some food. While in the produce section, a man casually asks her if she has ever tried cotton-candy grapes. Noa tells the man she hasn't and the man urges her to try one. The man (Sebastian Stan) introduces himself as Steve and tells Noa he would like to get her phone number so he has a story to tell his sister about how they met. Noa, charmed by Steve's banter, agrees and leaves the store thinking he will call her soon.
Noa tells Mollie some time later that she hoped that Steve would have called by now and relates that she thought she and Steve had a connection. Noa soon gets a call from Steve and they meet up at a bar for drinks. The bartender (Dayo Okeniyi) appears to be familiar with Steve and playfully banters with the couple before going off to serve other customers.
Noa and Steve talk more and they appear to connect on a deep level, surprising both of them. They decide to leave the bar and Noa invites Steve to her apartment. They are so into each other that they decide to have sex. Noa is so enamored with Steve that she takes a picture of him sleeping when she wakes up in the morning to show Mollie. Mollie is impressed that Noa opened herself up to a new relationship and is happy for her best friend, but she is also wary of new people and asks Noa for Steve's social media information.
Noa tells Mollie that Steve explained to her that he finds social media pointless, so he doesn't engage in any social media. Mollie finds this information suspicious and is even more concerned when she cannot find any information about Steve on the internet.
After Noa and Steve have gone on several dates, Steve invites Noa on a short vacation to Cottage Grove. Noa agrees and tells Mollie that Steve asked her to go a vacation with him. Mollie, still concerned about not finding any information about Steve, asks Noa to send her regular updates via text and to call her when she can. Noa agrees and sets off on her trip with Steve.
While on the road, Steve admits to Noa that he is actually taking her to his house. Noa is excited and wonders how Steve lives and what his house is actually like. However, once they arrive, Noa is dismayed to find that Steve's house is actually a mansion and he appears to be quite rich. She relates her feelings of inadequacy to Steve and he tells her that one of the things that he likes most about her is that she isn't rich and pretentious.
Steve makes a drink for himself and Noa and they sit on opposite couches, which demonstrates how distant she feels from Steve now that she has seen how he lives. As she sips her drink, she finds herself becoming very tired, as if she has been drugged. Steve asks Noa why she is sitting so far away and she has trouble talking. She tries to get up from the couch to walk over to Steve and falls face-first on the floor.
The rest of the film follows Noa as she discovers why Steve has drugged her, solve the mystery of who Steve really is and how he can afford his luxurious lifestyle.
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*Discussion contains spoilers
When Noa wakes up, she believes she has simply fallen asleep after the long drive. She finds herself in a bedroom on a bed the floor, being watched by Steve, who is sitting in a chair across the room. Confused, Noa looks around and finds herself chained by her wrists to the (wall or floor? I couldn't tell).
When Noa starts to panic and scream because Steve won't let her leave, Steve calms her down and tells her that he can afford his house and his lifestyle because he's basically a psychopath who kidnaps, mutilates and murders women. But oh no, he's not a regular psychopath, he keeps the women alive as long as possible because he cuts off parts of them and butchers their parts for human consumption. Nothing calms a hysterical woman down like telling her you're going to chop off parts of her and sell them to people to eat, then eventually kill her anyway. But, I digress.
So...Steve's idea for a job is like Hello Fresh, but for crazy cannibal people, got it. Did I mention Steve eats the women too? Steve is one gross motherfucker and Noa unknowingly picked the winner of winners, I tell you.
After hearing the best case scenario for her situation is dying slowly, Noa decides to try to act like she still likes Steve's crazy ass and asks him politely if she can take a shower. Steve falls for the act and tells Noa he will let her take a shower, but if she acts up, he will hurt her. Noa, most likely thinking "that's going to happen anyway", tells him she will be nice. As Steve leads Noa upstairs, she tries to escape (duh), and Steve easily defeats her with a backhand and she gets a trip to somewhere worse than her basement prison quarters.
Where, you may ask? Well, conveniently Steve has a surgery room in his house. He did tell Noa when they started dating that he was a plastic surgeon, so maybe he actually is, who knows? He had to learn somewhere, I guess.
Anyway, Steve is in operating scrubs and Noa is facedown on a table. Steve has quite the set-up. It kind of reminds me of the surgery room in Get Out (2017). How do these psychos do it? Anyway...Steve removes a large portion of Noa's gluteus maximus and apparently sews her back up (we don't see any of this, just a super quick shot of him putting her butt meat on a scale or something).
Now, it's not like I'm a crazy cannibal, but I don't really get why any cannibal would want to eat something that is pure muscle. Seems like it'd be tough and take a long time to cook to break it down. I guess that piece is for the poor cannibals. Like how at Outback Steakhouse you have to get the sirloin instead of the ribeye because you're down to coupons and Monopoly money and you're not getting paid until next week, but you know, you have to eat something. Maybe one of the crazy cannibal subscribers spent all their cash on a Space X trip to space and had to cut corners somewhere else. That's probably what happened.
Anyway, Noa wakes up and finds her butt bandaged and basically figures out really quick that Steve is a nutbag and will kill her faster if she tries to escape. She hears other women in the basement and talks to her prison wall buddy, Penny (Andrea Bang). Penny tells Noa that she has another prison wall buddy on the other side of her room named Melissa. Melissa has lost her marbles after being in the basement for a long time, so no one really talks to her.
At some point during her imprisonment, Steve cuts off Penny's leg and uses a dumbwaiter to bring it to the kitchen. It's kind of gross, but it's probably the funniest part of the movie. Steve has a really nice kitchen and starts preparing the "meat" for the subscription boxes. He cuts up the leg (they don't show much and it's not really gory or anything), seals the pieces in a vacuum food saver and throws them in each box, all while dancing.
I also use a vacuum sealer for beef, pork, chicken and vegetables, so all I could think of while he was doing this was, "Oh my God, what if I lost my mind and was sealing up meat and dancing in the kitchen and throwing it everywhere? My husband would have to try to tackle me to stop me and who knows how I'd react."
While Noa is downstairs, trying to figure out where her butt went and focusing on trying to heal, Mollie is trying to figure out why Noa is texting her weird messages and not answering her questions. Mollie quickly figures out that Noa is in some kind of trouble and goes to the bar where Noa and Steve met to figure out if anyone there knows Steve.
She talks to the bartender (we find out his name is Paul), who she discovers she knows and is friendly with. Mollie shows Paul the picture of Steve that Noa took while he was sleeping and Paul tells Mollie that the man's name isn't Steve, it's Brendan. Mollie asks Paul if he can find out Brendan's full name and send it to her. Paul agrees and Mollie leaves.
Some time later, Paul sends Mollie the information, which Mollie quickly searches for on the internet. She discovers that Brendan is married with two children. Mollie searches for the address of the house and drives to the location, desperate to find Noa. When she gets to the house, Brendan's wife Ann (Charlotte Le Bon) answers the door. Mollie tells Ann that Brendan is probably having an affair with her friend Noa and asks if she knows where Noa could be. Ann denies that her husband would do such a thing and Mollie tries to figure out how to make the wife talk.
As she tries to figure out what to ask next, Brendan arrives and talks with Mollie. He assures her he doesn't know Noa and as Mollie starts to leave, she calls Noa's phone. For some reason, Brendan has Noa's phone in his pocket and it rings. Realizing he is caught, he bonks Mollie on the head and his ice queen wife helps him whisk her away to his mansion of doom, mayhem, and death. (That sounds way better than Cottage Grove, let me tell you).
While Mollie is being bonked on the head and whisked away to psycho mansion, Noa has come up with a better plan. Her new plan is to trick Brendan into thinking she is just like him and they have a real connection. She learns through Penny and Melissa that Brendan only slept with her and none of the other women he's kidnapped and murdered. Noa figures this means that Brendan actually views her differently than the other women and she has a better chance at convincing him that they can have a (fucked up) relationship instead of him turning her into entrees.
Noa speaks with Brendan when he visits her prison cell and asks him what human meat tastes like. Brendan's over in his crazy chair, thinking "this chick is so into me and I can tell she secretly wants to be a cannibal", tells her that it's indescribable and he likes it because the person becomes a part of you when you eat them. Gross. But, I've actually heard that this is why real psychopaths kill people and eat them. They feel like that person is now part of them and they have ultimate control over that person forever. Sounds like someone did their cannibalistic psychopath research, Kathryn Kahn, hear hear; make it as real as possible so people get really traumatized by it, that's what I say (just kidding).
Brendan tells Noa he will make dinner for her (hopefully not that kind of dinner, but well all know it will be) and Noa, thinking this is her only way out, agrees to have dinner with Brendan. Brendan makes spaghetti with a special meatball and slides it on over to Noa, excitedly awaiting her reaction. Noa eats the meatball and tries valiantly to act like she's curious and completely unbothered by eating it. She asks Brendan quite casually if they are eating her butt meat (she doesn't say "butt meat", but that's way funnier than, "Are we eating...me?"). Brendan says no, they are eating someone else and Noa has to act like she's perfectly okay with what's going on.
Later, when Noa is in her room, she throws up the special meatball and hopes her plan is working. In the meantime, we see Brendan's wife, Ann, in their shared home and we see that she is deeply unhappy, appears to be traumatized and hides her emotional pain from Brendan. When she goes to take a shower, we see that she is missing a leg.
So. we're left to surmise that Ann was also a former victim of Brendan's, he let her live, had two kids with her and he still continues to kidnap, mutilate and murder other women. Not only is she complicit in this, she helps him bonk women on the head and whisk them away to psycho mansion. I mean, I kind of feel bad for Ann, but at the same time, you're helping him, Ann, so I hope she gets killed along with Brendan by the end of the film.
Noa gets a visit from Brendan again and he gifts her with a pink dress. She has to pretend she likes it and is excited to have a date with Brendan and eat another special dinner. He tries to recreate the magic of their first date and tells her more about how he became a cannibal and got into the psychopath version of Hello Fresh. Brendan seems glad to have someone to share his true thoughts with and tells Noa he feels a deep connection with her as she is "just like him". He believes Noa just had to try cannibalism to find out that she liked it, like him. That's all it takes folks, you just have to try it.
Noa pretends like she is the pinup psychopath girl of Brendan's dreams and they end up in the bedroom (not the prison bedroom though, it seems like it might be where Brendan sleeps upstairs). Noa goes into the bathroom to do something and comes back out. Brendan is on the bed, thinking he's going to get some action and instead, Noa bites the shit out of his dick or balls or both, I'm not sure because I didn't get a good look. And I'm not going back to look either. Like. Ever.
Also, it turns out while she was in the bathroom, she got out some toothpaste for Brendan and smeared that shit in his eyes to blind him. I guess Noa wanted Brendan's eyes minty fresh for their date or...you know, she wanted Brendan blind as shit so he couldn't see when he'd inevitably try to kill her for trying to bite his dick off and escape.
Noa heads downstairs while Brendan writhes around and tries not to die. She steals his keys and locks every door behind her as she goes downstairs to rescue Penny and what she thinks is Melissa, but finds Mollie in Melissa's room instead. Noa and Mollie walk upstairs and Penny has to hop with her one leg.
They didn't show it, but I'd like to see that magic happen. I've had to go upstairs after surgery with crutches and let me tell you, your ass will fall down the stairs if you try to hop. Hop, hop, hop, boom, boom, boom, knock yourself out on the landing and fall down the next flight too. Penny should've been like, I hope you bitches regularly do arm day during the week at the gym or you're going to pull your back out lifting me up the stairs because I'm sure as shit not going to do the hop and die combo.
It seems to me like they probably let Penny do the hop and die combo because Noa was still recovering from her ass removal and Mollie had something taken out of her (maybe a kidney?), but we never see what it was. Brendan also took Penny's ear, which is just plain weird. Who's eating cartilage over in the cannibal Hello Fresh subscription box? I guess someone bought a Ferrari that month.
Anyway, they get upstairs and Brendan gets out of the room and tries to kill them. They each take turns beating him up and stabbing him, which was nice to see. They think they've gotten him beat down enough that he won't follow them outside, but you know that never works. RPG's, decapitation or grenades girls; you have to take the killer out completely or he'll pop up in the final frame.
They get outside and run into the woods (well, running and hopping) and of course Ann shows up with the ever-helpful assistant who delivers the Cannibal Fresh boxes. The girls have a final confrontation with Brendan and Noa shoots Brendan in the head, effectively killing him. Noa has a final confrontation with Ann and Mollie helps kill Ann. We then see Noa and Mollie sit down next to a tree and Noa sees on her phone that a douchebag she went out in the beginning of the film has texted her to see if she wants to talk to him.
We never get information about whether or not the cannibal crew also gets found out or jailed or whatever, but I am optimistic and assume that everyone will get justice and all the bad guys will get punished.
I really liked this film. I don't like films about cannibalism per se, but this one was more about the relationships of the characters and the strength of the women in the film. It wasn't too gory and hardly showed any of the surgeries or mutilations. It was more the idea of cannibalism and gore than anything, which I appreciated. I don't know if I could have watched the film if it had been more gory or just gross.
I thought the actors did a great job and I especially liked how believable Sebastian Stan, Daisy Edgar-Jones and Jonica T. Gibbs were. Sebastian Stan reminded me a lot of how Theodore (Ted) Bundy acted and charmed his victims, so I wondered if he got inspiration from that psychopath or other real-life murderers and serial killers.
Did you like this film? Have you seen it? Do you plan on watching it? What did you think if you've seen it? What would you change or improve? Let me know in the comment section below!