the online dating horror movie is scary and well acted
Director: Mimi Cave
Cast: Daisy Edgar Jones, Sebastian Stan, Charlotte Le Bon, Jonica T. Gibbs, Andrea Bang, Dayo Okeniyi, Brett Dier
Genre: Horror Thriller, Dark Comedy
Country / Language: United States / English
Costs starts with Noa (Marguerite Edgar Jones) on a restaurant date with a guy she met on an app. It’s going terribly. The date keeps interrupting her, rudely addressing the waitress and hastily packing up leftover food without asking Noa if she’d like to take some home too. Then, when she tells him she doesn’t want another date, he calls her a “bitch” and leaves. Noa regrets this date.
With this brilliantly funny sequence, director Mimi Cave and screenwriter Lauryn Kahn prove their knack for crafting dark, comedic, relatable, and wildly awkward stories. Costs is marketed as a modern horror and dark comedy about the perils of online dating. But unfortunately for Noa, things will only get worse. This movie isn’t just a dark comedy about modern dating. About 20 minutes later, it changes gears to something more gruesome.
See, things get better when Noa later meets a suave guy in a “meets-cute” way (the grocery store). His name is Steve (Sebastian Stan from Marvel’s winter soldier). Steve is nice, mentions having a sister and that he is a doctor. Great. Noa falls in love with him. The great thing about Noa’s characterization is that we never think it’s unreasonable to go on a date with this suspicious man. It was negligent, but not unreasonable. We have spent time with her and know how lonely and stuck she feels. Dating apps just don’t work for her. And she finally meets an old-fashioned guy. Why should not did she give him a chance?
Daisy Edgar Jones, who impressed viewers immensely with her portrayal of Marianne on Hulu’s normal people, absolutely nails the role of single millennial working woman. She plays Noa as someone smart, but not too smart. Someone not naive, but maybe a little desperate. Jones is so good, in fact, that we wouldn’t have bothered with a dark comedy about modern dating with her.
We won’t go into the details of what happens next, but things take a shocking and heartbreaking turn. There’s flesh to be cut (something suggested by the film’s title and alternate poster). The fact that the real antagonists are never fully exposed, but explained to be some of the richest men in the world, makes things all the scarier, due to its realism. Conspiracy theories, such as the most powerful people in the world being part of a secret society that enjoys unleashing unimaginable cruelty on vulnerable members of society as a hobby, have been circulating for decades. This makes it easier for audiences to immerse themselves in the plot and see it as something more compelling than a haunted house story, and therefore more terrifying. So Costs works well as a dark body horror.
Much of the film has Jones acting on her own. And she excels in the one-woman show. Stan is great too, as the charming but psychopathic Steve.
The supporting cast does wonders. We have Jonica T. Gibbs as Mollie, Noa’s best friend. She’s a no-frills woman who distrusted Steve from the very beginning. Charlotte LeBon plays Steve’s suburban wife, Ann, with cold precision. And finally, there’s Penny played by Andrea Bang, who does voice acting for much of the film and makes audiences feel chills and horror just by her voice.
Although the cast is fantastic, I wish there were more scenes of Noa interacting with other captives in Steve’s cabin. And some viewers may want the film to explore the underground society more deeply. There are some pacing issues near the end of the film before the climactic showdown. But one impressive plot point of the film is that it doesn’t fall into stereotypical horror genre tropes near the end, with its character choices.
The fact that Costs is Mimi Cave’s directorial debut, as well as a bold indie horror that crosses genres to be character-driven and even feminist, shows that Cave has a promising career ahead of her. Just like screenwriter Lauryn Kahn. Costs is not for the faint-hearted, and certainly not for a weak stomach. If you like body horror, this is a perfect watch for you.
“Fresh” is available on Disney+ Hotstar
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