I have mixed feelings about Fresh, which premiered a few weeks ago on Hulu. When I first watched through it, I was frustrated by how brazenly it copied other films. Not like a Coen Brothers movie, where it’s an homage to a particular genre. Instead, it feels like it’s taking very specific elements from very specific movies. But… It’s original enough that I’ll give it a pass, if not a second viewing.
The premise is that women are meat. A woman gets trapped by a psychopath who harvests women’s meat for profit (apparently that’s where the market is). Immediately, without even seeing the film, my first thought is: ‘Oh, so like Get Out, but for feminism instead of racism?’ Yes. Exactly. So that irritated me, that the premise was such an obvious parallel to Get Out.
But then I watched it, and the intro felt more like Promising Young Woman, because it begins as a laugh-out-loud commentary on how toxic men are in the modern dating world.
And then when we see the killer in action, I thought of American Psycho, because his mannerisms, detached psychopathy, and over-the-top dehumanizing of women was eerily similar to Patrick (Christian Bale’s character).
And then there were some bits straight out of Ex Machina, which is another film that comments on the treatment of women in the 21st century. The painting on the wall, the shots of the painting on the wall, the dancing scene… If that was all coincidental, I’d be stunned.
On top of that, the whole style felt like a candy-colored Blumhouse slasher: something hyper-realistic and graphic, an engrossing (ha) blend of brutality and comedy. Think Happy Death Day or Freaky. In that regard, it feels least like a copy of specific moments, and more of an homage to the general style.
Anyways… You get the idea. It’s like that kid in school who’s smart enough to not just copy-paste the Wikipedia entry into his essay. So he replaces certain words, moves the sentences around, and copies several Wikipedia entries. Which is better than pure plagiarism… I guess…? Except it is plagiarism? ‘No no no, it’s an HOMAGE to the Wikipedia entries’ ‘Umm…’
My other issue with the film is the editing. The first half hour is completely pointless, and it’s a great example of how not to drag out your exposition. Don’t spend thirty minutes of non-tension building to your premise. Tighten it up. Cut it down. There are even some hints in the script that something more sinister is coming up, but the way it’s edited completely diffuses any ominous undertones.
I’d understand if they just didn’t have a lot of other material, but they had 90 minutes of actual movie after that! So they didn’t even need it for filler! It’s like if the Wikipedia kid padded the essay so that it was seven pages, but it only needed to be five… And he already had five pages worth of content…
Criticisms aside, I will give the movie credit for hitting on a good concept and ‘fleshing’ it out (sorry). It’s more than a simplistic message of ‘don’t objectify women’. Notably when it tries to draw parallels with traditional conservative values and cannibalism: ‘it’s like self-sacrificial love… you need to submit… you just need to enjoy the giving of yourself to your husband…’ It may not be subtle, but hey, it’s interesting.
Also, the ending made me laugh out loud. Most of the rest didn’t, but the ending basically made up for it.
So, again, I can’t say I’d whole-heartedly recommend it. And the creativity (or lack thereof) is definitely distracting. You should watch the movies that inspire it first, but then maybe if you’re bored, have this one for dessert.
Note: At one point, they also had a violin cover of Exit Music (For a Film), which was already done better in Westworld!! I don’t think they actually meant to reference Westworld, but it still annoyed me…
Another note: They make fun of how Disney movies have conditioned people to want love, and yet it’s made by Hulu… Which is owned by Disney… Wut…