The attention of audiences has always been drawn to films portraying unstable serial killers and psychopaths, from Patrick Bateman in American Psycho to John Doe in Se7en. Fresh (2022) brings a contemporary twist to the recent uptick in criminal thriller movies and television shows.
The film, which starred Sebastian Stan and Daisy Edgar Jones in the key characters, won accolades for its innovative approach to the genre. Let us examine the film and, in particular, the unsettling story of a meet-cute gone wrong with the serial killer who harvests the flesh of his victims!
What makes the killer so terrifying? – how the butcher of human flesh lures his victims!
The film opens with the introduction of “Noa,” a young woman who is quite dissatisfied with her love life since she is constantly going on horrible dates. She nevertheless keeps meeting men through dating apps and appears to be caught in a loop of unsuccessful dates. Noa’s life ultimately turns around when she finally encounters a supposedly kind man at the grocery store after having to endure another one of them. The man introduces himself as “Steve,” and the two instantly click and start joking about. Steve’s demeanor and apparent politeness take Noa in, and she consents to give him her number.
The following day, Noa shares her impressions of Steve with her best friend Mollie and admits she thought he was hilarious and cute. Noa hoped Steve would text her because she no longer anticipated meeting anyone in person. It does not take long for Steve to get in touch with her, and the two eventually meet in a bar. Their date goes well, and Steve explains that he moved here because of his job obligations.
He explains to her that he practices reconstructive surgery and even shares a story of how he once saved a small child who had suffered severe burns. Noa is quite impressed by Steve and trusts him with personal information about her life, and even tells him that she does not have much family.
She then asks him if he is on any social media platforms, and Steve admits that he does not use any such platforms. While Noa has no way of doing a background check, Steve makes a joke about her having to just stalk him in person. They spend a lot of time at the bar, and Steve and his charismatic personality eventually smite Noa. She does not suspect any ulterior motives on Steve’s part, and the two end up sleeping together.
Noa later talks to her friend, who finds it a little suspicious that Steve has no social media accounts. Noa does not mind this and casually keeps seeing Steve. They go on several dates, and on one of these dates, Steve mentions that he does not eat animals. He is also curious whether Noa has mentioned him to any of her friends and inquires about her friend Mollie. Later that evening, Steve suggests a weekend getaway, and Noa readily agrees.
Mollie suggests that Noa should not go with someone she barely knows, but Noa assures her that she will be okay and promises to text her. While Noa packs her bags, Steve suggests they head back to his place for the night and set out on their trip the next morning. While Steve drives to his place, he notices that Noa seems to be a little hesitant and quiet while sitting in the passenger’s seat. He assures her that he is pretty excited to go on the trip with her and even tells her that they are going to ‘Cottage Grove’, even though he wanted to keep this a surprise. Noa seems much more relaxed after knowing this and texts her location to Mollie, but the internet service appears to be lagging.
They soon reach Steve’s place, and things take a wild turn at this point. Steve offers to make them some drinks, while Noa checks the place out. She observes a strange painting on his wall, while Steve drugs her cocktail in the background. He hands her the drink and even asks her if she noticed any weird flavors in it. Steve smiles at her and keeps talking while Noa’s vision blurs and she falls unconscious.
Noa regains consciousness and finds herself chained to the floor, while Steve admits that he drugged her. She asks him what is going on, and Steve tells her that she will freak out if he tells her. Noa asks Steve to take the restraints off, but he refuses. While Noa starts freaking out, Steve just sits in a corner and tells Noa to listen to him.
He tells Noa that he is not going to kill her, at least not right away. We learn that he is a butcher who sells the fresh meat of humans, especially young women such as Noa. Steve also tells Noa that people pay a lot for fresh meat, which is why he will keep Noa alive for a while until he cuts her flesh part by part and sells them fresh. Steve assures her that he will take care of her and even cook her meals as long as she doesn’t act up and try to do something dangerous. Noa then tries to attack Steve, but her restraints come in the way, and Steve manages to subdue her. He then leaves Noa on the floor of the room and even texts Mollie through Noa’s phone to reassure her that Noa is fine.
Noa keeps crying and asking for help when she hears a woman through the wall. The woman’s voice tells her that she cannot help her, and that they are in the same boat. They start talking to each other, and the woman introduces herself as ‘Penny’. Penny was new to town when she met Steve, and now her body parts are being harvested by him as she dies a slow death. Noa asks her if she has been here for a while, and Penny tells her that she has lost track of time.
Noa insists that there must be people looking out for her, and Penny admits that she does not have much family. Noa realizes that Steve has a pattern of picking out women whose absence would go unnoticed, and she starts panicking. Penny tells her that there is another woman named Mellisa here, and Noa states that they have to get out of here one way or another.
Back in the city, Mollie tries to do a background check on Steve but does not find much information. She texts Noa and gets immediate replies, but Mollie senses that these replies seem suspicious and she starts to dig into Steve’s history.
The scene shifts to Steve’s kitchen, as the butcher takes out a piece of Mellisa’s leg from his storage and cuts the meat into smaller pieces. He does not seem bothered by the task of cutting up a human leg at all, and actually dances around as he packages the meat and puts them into shipping boxes. Steve then visits Noa in her room and even cooks her a proper meal. Noa refuses the food, but she tells him that she needs to shower.
Steve tells her to give him one smile, and then allows her to take a shower. He even gets rid of her restraints, and tells her that he is still the nice guy she met at the bar the other day. He just warns her not to play any games, and then leads her to the bathroom. On the way, Noa looks for an opportunity to strike Steve, but he anticipates her attack and easily deflects it.
As a punishment, Steve then takes Noa to his surgery room and surgically cuts off her butt while she begs him to leave her alone. Steve reassures her by saying that he is a surgeon, and he seems to be in very high spirits as he performs the surgery.
Meanwhile, Mollie visits her friend Paul at the bar and asks him to share Steve’s information from the night he met Noa at the same bar. Paul shares Steve’s details with Mollie, and they learn that his real name is ‘Brendan Steve Kemp’. Mollie looks him up, and finds out that Brendan actually has a wife named ‘Ann’ as well as children. After some digging, Mollie discovers Ann’s address and decides to visit her.
Meanwhile, Noa recovers from the surgery when Steve pays her a visit. Noa asks him why he slept with her, and Steve tells her that it is because he actually liked her. He then asks her to try and relax and leaves her all alone. Noa then tries to talk to Penny through the wall, and Penny tells her that she is done with this and cannot go on anymore.
Mollie, meanwhile, shows up at Ann’s doorstep, and asks her if she knows anything about Noa. Mollie tells Ann all about her husband’s involvement with Noa, while Steve on the other hand checks up on Noa again. Noa tries to engage in conversation with him and asks him about the taste of the meat, and Steve then decides to leave. He returns home to find Mollie there, who asks him if he also goes by the name Brendan.
Steve denies this, and also claims to not know Noa at all. As Mollie leaves, she tries to call Noa but the phone rings in Steve’s pocket. He then tells Mollie that she shouldn’t have really come here, while Ann hits Mollie in the head and strikes her down. While Ann and Steve talk later, we learn that Ann is also involved in his business. Moreover, she also has a prosthetic leg, suggesting that she was one of his earlier victims.
The next morning, Steve steps out for a run and later snacks on some crisps made out of human meat. He then gets to work and makes a meal from the human meat. Since Noa was curious about the meat, Steve asks her to have dinner with him. Over dinner, Noa asks Steve more about how he got into this business and he tells her that he has been consuming human meat since he was nineteen.
He seems to have some notion about how consuming someone’s meat is a powerful practice through which one gives a part of them to someone forever. He then forces her to taste some of the human meat and tells her that just this one meal costs about thirty thousand dollars. He also tells Noa about his client base being just one percent of the top one percent of the population and how they can afford almost anything. Noa thanks Steve for the dinner, but she later throws up in her room.
After dinner, Steve takes Mollie to his surgery room and starts to harvest her body parts as well. Mollie had shared her live location with Paul, who sets out to find her after her location shops updating. Steve also gets Noa a dress and asks her to wear it tonight and have dinner with him again.
Noa even asks Steve if this is a date, and he says that maybe it is. They start drinking a lot, and Noa once again digests the human meat even if she cannot stomach it. During dinner, Steve shows Noa a secret compartment behind a painting, where he has collected a lot of personal items belonging to all his victims so far. As Noa skims over all the collected items, she spots Mollie’s phone and immediately recognises it.
Later, Steve and Noa return to the dinner table where he serves her some ‘breast meat.’ He even makes a joke about the meat tasting familiar and Noa laughs and cracks a joke. However, she has figured out that Mollie needs saving, and Noa then tricks Steve into sleeping with her by putting up an emotional front.
While Steve was quite skilled in tricking women and luring them to his place, he fails to see through Noa’s plan and engages in her ideas. They dance around the room, and Steve even forgets to handcuff Noa. Later, they sleep together, and Noa takes a while in the bathroom before going to bed. She catches Steve off guard and bites off his testicles during the deed, leaving him in a lot of pain.
Moreover, she also rubs his eyes with some toothpaste from the bathroom, which disorients him and gives Noa some time to leave the room and haphazardly lock it. Noa then frees Mollie and Penny while Steve manages to escape the room. As the three girls find their phones and try to escape, Steve catches up with them and tries to attack Noa. With some help from Mollie and Penny, Noa dodges his attacks and the three girls manage to escape the place.
However, Steve follows them out with a gun even in his injured state and tries to shoot at them. Finally, the three girls corner him and Noa shoots him with his own gun. After a long time of killing women and harvesting their body parts, Steve dies a sad death in the middle of the woods at the hands of the same girls.
Noa and the girls then try to leave the premises, but find themselves stuck without any signal or phones.
Meanwhile, Ann comes to this house and finds her husband’s dead body on the grounds. She then runs into Noa, who had returned to the house in order to find her phone. Ann tries to trick Noa into believing they are on the same side and then attacks her at the first opportunity she gets. Ann strangles Noa, who uses all her might to stab Ann with some keys that were in her hand. Mollie also shows up to help Noa, and they kill Ann together.
As the movie comes to an end, Noa and Mollie sit back and catch their breaths as they are relieved to be reunited.
During the credits, we see Steve’s clients sitting on a table with a lot of meat; and we finally learn that they are all a part of a Satanist organization.
Marvelous Verdict: A disturbingly brutal tale of modern-day horror!
Fresh is a twisted, modern tale of horror that keeps the audience hooked to the story right from the start. Full of elements of suspense, horror, and cannibalism along with a dash of humor, this movie has a lot to offer, and it definitely keeps one on their toes till the end. The actors do a fantastic job at playing these roles, and Sebastian Stan’s role as a cannibalistic serial killer deserves a lot more recognition.
The movie starts on a slow and subtle note, but soon shapes into a gory, murderous tale. The serial killer, Steve, has a very charismatic personality and seems to appear as quite a regular guy at the beginning. However, we can spot the underlying psychopathic tendencies in some bits and pieces even at the start. The actor does a great job depicting these minor behavior changes that form the basis for his serial killer identity.
While the movie starts off as a romantic comedy, it builds up into a full-blown thriller as we learn about Steve’s real identity in a shocking revelation. The opening credits for the movie don’t roll in until almost thirty minutes into the movie, which also marks the turning point for Steve and Noa’s relationship.
Steve also has a very energetic, cheerful persona and he actually seems to be enjoying his work as a butcher. He is usually in very high spirits while working with human meat, often playing music and grooving along to the beat while he packs the meat or performs surgeries. He seems to be a classic example of how appearances can be deceptive, and a deranged madman lies below the exterior of his cheerful persona!
A few final words
To sum it all up, Fresh is an engaging movie that comes as a treat to fans of the horror thriller genre. It follows a very unique story, and definitely lives up to its name ‘Fresh’ as it is a breath of fresh air among other films in this genre. The movie has a pretty solid storyline, and has some wonderful performances by the actors that together make it a great watch. If you’re a fan of horror or murder thrillers, then Fresh is right up your alley and is definitely a must-watch!