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John’s Horror Corner: Fresh (2022), a charming relationship movie turning into medical horror-LITE.

March 30, 2022

MY CALL:  An excellent choice for people who don’t like horror, yet still very enjoyable for this horror fan—probably because I also enjoy RomComs. 

Delightful! The first scene of this film is outstandingly written as we meet Noa (Daisy Edgar-Jones; War of the Worlds) on a nightmare of a one-and-done first date. It’s simultaneously hilarious in being too real and mildly farcical of modern dating. I don’t claim to understand what it’s like in the Dating App world as a woman today. But this feels like a pretty on-point representation. Dear lord, I don’t miss dating! Thankfully, Noa’s post-date meet-cute with Steve (Sebastian Stan; Pam and Tommy, I, Tonya, The Covenant, The Apparition) in the grocery store is awkwardly sweet and kindly grounded. This more readily feels like the opening for a smartly written, quick-witted HBO RomCom series than a horror movie right now. Nothing about their first date is smooth. Its charm is steeped in refreshingly humanized clunkiness; the sincerest of flawed moments that draw us closer to one another.

But fret not, horror fans, this takes a cold hard turn right quick, and we wander into some kind of kidnapping, medical horror, polite-and-charming Hannibal Lector situation. I say medical horror and you might think of American Mary (2012). Relationship horror?  Honeymoon (2014), Let Me In (2010) or Thirst (2009) likely spring to mind. But this film is nothing of the sort.

The scoring and soundtrack are energized and really keep this film light despite its darker nature. Complementing the film’s oddly positive energy is the cast (incl. Jojo T. Gibbs)—everyone does a great job! Edgar-Jones plays the frustrated, angsty dater and likewise handles horror situations excellently, and Stan is a pleasure as her idiosyncratic counterpart.

This film is very linear and far from confusing, yet… I found myself often shocked by the next logical step. I guess I kept expecting to have the rug pulled out from under me, and it just never happened. Not a bad thing. Just… I was very shocked by how unshocking it was. Practically goreless, not mean… it’s actually a rather compassionate tone for the genre. Tender even. And the dance scenes—yes, scenes, plural—transcend into this weird sweetness that makes you want to grab your love and slow dance in the living room.

I don’t want to spoil what this is about, and it’s hard. But the reveal is just a pleasure. What’s important to note is that I’m a hardcore brutal gore fan, yet I managed to truly enjoy this very ungory, horror-LITE, relationship horror. It’s great for those who generally don’t like horror for its meanness or gore or inane premises. And like I said, there’s dancing scenes! Not just dancing. But, rather unexpectedly, there are some lovely food and dining scenes—like Chef’s Table lovely. Watching this movie truly made me hungry.

Director Mimi Cave approaches her first feature film and spins the horror genre in a fresh new direction. The closing 30 minutes were very satisfying. Again, good energy to this film. Overall a highly entertaining light thriller that should be great for people who don’t like horror.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. rdfranciswriter permalink
    May 15, 2022 11:19 am

    I kept hearing about this, so I took the plunge. I felt the same way you did. It’s a hell of a debut film.

    • John Leavengood permalink
      May 15, 2022 12:20 pm

      Truly, I should have saved this for my girlfriend who typically cannot endure horror. This would have been a good choice for her. Plus, Stan was so charming.

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