**This article contains spoilers for Fresh.**
Going into Fresh, I only knew two things about it; one, it starred Sebastian “Bucky” Stan and two, it was a horror movie of some kind that was just released on Hulu. As a fan of Stan ever since his days at the Mad Hatter on ABC’s Once Upon a Time, I always make it a point to check out his work. While his performance certainly drove my initial interest in the film, the real reason for watching turned out to be something else entirely.
Daisy Edgar-Jones stars as Noa, a young twenty-something trying to meet Mr. Right in the digital land of online dating apps, populated with everything from arrogant manchildren to full-blown sociopaths. In fact, the opening scene is an all-too-real depiction of what it can be like going on a date in today’s day and age. The man’s conversation is filled with micro-aggressions and backhanded comments about Noa, and women in general. This, understandably, is a huge turn-off for Noa, who is honest–but polite–at the end of date, stating that she didn’t think they were a good match. The guy finds this super offensive, further belittling her and wishing her luck at finding a man, since she’s a “stuck-up bitch” in his eyes. Been there, done that, sister.
Noa happens upon Steve (Stan) during a late-night run to her local supermarket where they have a meet-cute over cotton candy-flavored grapes (this should’ve been the first red flag, to be honest). He asks for her number, and Noa throws caution to the wind, with the ever-so-dangerous “fuck it” attitude that numerous dead-end dates can give you, and provides her digits. They have a wonderful first date, have obvious chemistry, great conversation, and even sleep together. Things move quickly, and he asks to take her away for the weekend, to which she agrees. Now this is where things get dicey.
Once they arrive at their secluded bungalow, Steve spikes Noa’s drink, knocking her unconscious. Noa wakes up chained to a wall in a cell, where Steve explains that he is a broker of sorts for supplying rich people pieces of, well, meat. Human meat. Noa initially tries to fight against him, which only pisses him off, leading to the removal of her glutes. While captive, Noa manages to communicate with other women who also had fallen prey to Steve, essentially becoming a support group for each other.
Meanwhile, Noa’s bff Mollie (Jojo T. Gibbs), figures out something is wrong when Steve pretends to be Noa texting Mollie. Mollie is able to use social media to find Steve’s true identity, and learn that he’s married with children. Mollie pays a visit to the wife at Steve’s home, eventually discovering that Steve has Noa’s phone in his possession. However, the wife is in on it, and helps Steve incapacitate her.
Noa eventually starts to play along and pretends to still have feelings for Steve, even going as far as taking an interest in his…palate. She eventually wins back his trust, and seduces him to the point to where he completely lets his guard (and pants) down. Noa did what any level-headed woman in the same situation would do: bit his penis off. While Steve is busy dealing with identifying a little too close to John Wayne Bobbitt, Noa rushes to free the other women, which at this point consists of Mollie and Penny (Andrea Bang). As the trio tries to escape, Steve eventually catches up to them, where they gang up on him in order to knock him unconscious.
The women make their escape from the house, only for Steve to come after them with a gun. They split up in the woods and get the jump on Steve, with Noa asking him to give them a smile (nice) before putting a bullet in his head. Then Steve’s wife tries to kill Noa, but Mollie uses a shovel to beat the wife’s head in. We all need a friend like Mollie. The final scene of the film is a shot of Noa’s phone as another dating app reject texts her “U up?.”
Ultimately, Fresh is a wonderful, if gruesome, cautionary tale of dating in today’s modern world that doesn’t take itself too seriously. It also does a great job of emphasizing the bonds of sisterhood, even with sisters we may not know. It serves as an important reminder that sometimes we’re better off with just ourselves…and maybe a nice set of batteries.