Screamworthy: ‘Fresh’ is deviously delicious — and we want seconds

Sebastian Stan and Daisy Edgar-Jones appear in "Fresh" by Mimi Cave, an official selection of the Midnight section at the 2022 Sundance Film Festival. Courtesy of Sundance Institute.

Welcome to Screamworthy! As spooky season reaches its zenith, your trusty FOX Digital film critics will be taking a look at some of the weirdest, wildest and most-talked about horror movies of this year and years past. Next up: FOX Digital Entertainment Editor Allison Shoemaker tucks into a heaping helping of "Fresh," Hulu’s 2022 pitch-black horror comedy. This piece was originally published on Mar. 3, 2022.

When the title of "Fresh" pops up onscreen some 30-ish minutes into its expertly-paced runtime, the bold letters do exactly what they are meant to do: let the audience know that the movie has finally started. That might sound like a complaint, but it’s not. The opening act of director Mimi Cave’s assured, darkly comic debut feature immediately puts the viewer in the position of waiting for the other shoe to drop. 

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It’s honest storytelling and a fiendish trick all at once. After all, if you found yourself in the middle of a storybook meet-cute, wouldn’t you be suspicious too? And if you found yourself being suspicious, wouldn’t you wonder if you’re just being paranoid?


Fresh -- "FRESH" follows Noa (Daisy Edgar-Jones), who meets the alluring Steve (Sebastian Stan) at a grocery store and – given her frustration with dating apps – takes a chance and gives him her number. After their first date, Noa is smitten and acce

So, yes, "Fresh" takes its time getting started, but that time isn’t wasted. The first act allows the marvelous Daisy Edgar-Jones (Hulu’s "Normal People") to bring Noa to life. An unsatisfied singleton, Noa has grown weary of swiping left and right, having the same dull conversations with a parade of less than beguiling dudes. So when she has that precious grocery-store flirtation with the handsome but awkward Steve (Sebastian Stan), it's a development she approaches with equal parts disbelief and grudging hope.

WATCH FREE ON TUBI: Sebastian Stan in "I’m Not Here" get the app

It's a blessing that Cave and screenwriter Lauryn Kahn give Jones the time she needs to let that conflict play out within Noa; those intertwined feelings of apprehension and excitement are key to the enormously appealing performance that anchors the film. It’s a turn that allows the audience to doubt and delight alongside Noa, so that when the penny finally drops, it’s as if we’ve all been duped together (but somehow knew it all along).


Fresh -- "FRESH" follows Noa (Daisy Edgar-Jones), who meets the alluring Steve (Sebastian Stan) at a grocery store and – given her frustration with dating apps – takes a chance and gives him her number. After their first date, Noa is smitten and acce

That’s due in part to the funny, unhinged performance of Stan, who operates in the Dan Stevens mode here, using his movie-star good looks and charm to make "Fresh" just that little bit weirder. Cave and cinematographer Pawel Pogorzelski ("Midsommar") take obvious delight in the big swings Stan is making as dreamy plastic surgeon Steve. 

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While Noa anchors the emotional core of the story (and plays the straight man, so to speak), the visual language is all Steve; glossy and appealing and wrong. For a sense of the film’s tone, imagine the series "Hannibal" as a punchy, hip comedy, or "Phantom Thread" by way of "Ready or Not."

In a perfect world, this review would say much more about "Fresh," from Jojo T. Gibbs’ terrific supporting turn as Noa’s BFF to the righteous soundtrack to the sharp-toothed sense of humor that never overwhelms Kahn’s emotionally rich screenplay. Alas, writing about "Fresh" without giving away its secrets is pretty much impossible, so let’s leave it at this: See it. Have fun.

And maybe don’t eat first. 

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Fresh -- "FRESH" follows Noa (Daisy Edgar-Jones), who meets the alluring Steve (Sebastian Stan) at a grocery store and – given her frustration with dating apps – takes a chance and gives him her number. After their first date, Noa is smitten and acce

Grade: B+.

Rated R. 114 minutes. Dir: Mimi Cave. Featuring: Daisy Edgar-Jones, Sebastian Stan, Jojo T. GIbbs, Charlotte Le Bon, Andrea Bang, Dayo Okeniyi. Distributed by Hulu/Searchlight Pictures. 

Make it a double feature with "Shivers," streaming free on Tubi

One of the first films from groundbreaking body horror auteur David Cronenberg, "Shivers" (also called "They Came From Within," among other titles) includes an unusually direct warning at the end of its trailer: "If this film doesn’t make you scream and squirm, you’d better see a psychiatrist — quick." And honestly, that’s not bad advice. A scientist in a fancy apartment kills a young woman and then himself, a terrifying occurrence that’s only the beginning of the nightmare "Shivers" conjures. It turns out the not-so-good doctor was experimenting with a lethal parasite, one that turns its host into a bloodthirsty, sexually crazed human wrecking ball. Rated R. 87 minutes. Dir: David Cronenberg. Featuring: Paul Hampton, Joe Silver, Lynn Lowry, Allan Kolman, Susan Petrie.

"Shivers" is streaming free on Tubiget the app

How to watch "Fresh"

"Fresh" is exclusively streaming on Hulu. Plans begin at $7.99/month for the ad-supported tier ($1.99 for eligible students!); options include ad-free and Live TV tiers, as well a bundle with Disney+ and ESPN+. 

About the writer: Allison Shoemaker is a Chicago-based pop-culture critic and journalist. She is the author of "How TV Can Make You Smarter," and a member of the Television Critics Association and the Chicago Film Critics Association. She is also a producer and co-host for the Podlander Presents network of podcasts. Find her on Twitter and Instagram at @allisonshoe. Allison is a Tomatometer-approved Top Critic on Rotten Tomatoes.

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