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New Moon Movie Night: ‘Fresh’ Dances Its Way Through Body Horror

by NEVE

Welcome to our moon-synced movie review show, hosted by Saira Barbaric and NEVE. This duo of South Seattle creatives make multidisciplinary work together and individually. For this show, they’re ecstatic to join their love of astrology, ritual, and pop culture.

Stream this month’s podcast at the New Moon Movie Review official podcast website


Just in time for Halloween, we have a scary pick for you, and this one is definitely for mature audiences only. I watched Fresh (2022) for the first time alone while drawing. I remember being most drawn in by the music and dance montages, which lend Mimi Cave’s film a smart and out-of-time flair. Anytime there is dancing in a horror, it’s going to get my attention. 

Apparently the dance sequences were very important and the most troubling to Cave — so much so that one of the actors, Sebastian Stan, recorded himself dancing as his audition tape, and he got the part. I often watch creepy films alone while drawing, and then upon sharing said film with another person, feel creepy for having enjoyed it so much. Drawing makes the parts where this film lags go by more smoothly, but upon watching it again with Saira, I think, do these parts lag or are they just suffused with an extraordinary level of tension that I prefer not to have to stand? 

For this month, I knew I wanted to pick a horror, and while I prefer a monster flick to a human-on-human scary tale, this movie continued to stand out to me as one that does its genre well, while serving some surprises too. I hadn’t seen Fresh in a while, and I didn’t know what kind of mood it would cast watching it with another person. I also wouldn’t learn that until Saira and I recorded later that evening, because we had set a challenge for ourselves of watching two movies with each other back-to-back, without commenting or sharing our thoughts during the film or right afterwards, saving it all for the podcast discussion. That was very hard for me, as I love gauging what someone else thinks and feels about a film if we’re watching it together! As it turned out, Saira and I both enjoyed this grotesque film more than I expected. 

Fresh sets itself up much like a romantic comedy, replete with the white best friend Noa (Daisy Edgar-Jones) experiencing dating foibles and venting about it to Black best friend Mollie (Jonica T. Gibbs), who mostly listens and gives advice for the first chunk of the movie. This racist dynamic does turn a corner eventually, but by then we are far out of rom-com territory, and deeply entrenched in slasher-meets-body horror. 

When we meet Noa, she is about to go on a terrible date, and from her phone call with Mollie (“Thank You For Being a Friend” is their mutual ringtone for one another and that’s pretty cute) this seems to be one in a string of unsuccessful Tinder dates. The men that Noa meets are boring, misogynistic, rude to waitstaff, and not funny at all. In waltzes Steve (Sebastien Stan) via a meet-cute in the produce section of the grocery store. He is an attractive vegetarian doctor with a quick wit, and Noa seems ready to be wrong about no guy ever being right for her. Yet this is not a romantic comedy — the up-close and nearly lurid shots of mist-dappled fruit and vegetables are screaming, “It’s a horror movie!” And Steve is not what he seems. Though from a different perspective, perhaps he is exactly what he seems. You’ll have to watch this one to see where the dancing comes up, but I have to tell you, it’s so perfect it’s actually sort of rude. 

Fresh is a fun, scary, unsettling, gross, and occasionally beautiful directorial debut from Mimi Cave. It was directed from a screenplay by Lauryn Kahn, who said that she wanted to create a film that would appeal to horror fans and non-horror fans alike. I’m not sure if a non-horror fan would be able to stomach Fresh, but I would love to find out. 

You will like Fresh if you are interested in horror movies with a feminist twist, and if you can handle human-on-human violence, with the understanding that this dark comedy body-horror thriller serves up more than the tried and true final girl trope. I do not recommend this movie if you are squeamish, do not like horror or especially human-on-human violence, and if you are under 17. Otherwise, please enjoy, and if you were frustrated by my lack of spoilers you can find the very spoiled review of Fresh, as always, on our delightful podcast. Happy Halloween, everybody!


NEVE (they/(s)he) is a multigender, multiracial, multiply Disabled, multidimensional, multidisciplinary terpsichorean artist of the stage, street, field, stream, and screen. They are an Indigenous African living in Duwamish and Coast Salish lands and traveling wherever they have access and an invitation. (S)He is a 2020 Pina Bausch Fellow and a 2022 Arc Artist Fellow. Visit them online at nevebebad.com and beyond.

Since 2015, Saira B (he/she/they/ze) has been based in Seattle creating performance art, films, and events that explore mythology, eroticism, AfroPsychedelic dreams, ritual objects, and glitch as digital expressionism. Barbaric-art.com has more about Saira’s projects and past works.

📸 Featured Image: Photo by Foodio/Shutterstock.com

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