Dating, especially in the modern age, can be hell, like the new horror movie Costs attests. Before five minutes had passed in the film, its main character, Noa (Daisy Edgar-Jones), had a disastrous first date and was sexually harassed by another man while browsing his dating app. .
Her best friend, Mollie (Jojo T. Gibbs), wants Noa to calm down on the dating front, but that’s thrown out the window when Noa runs into Steve (Sebastian Stan) at her local grocery store. The cute encounter turns into several dates in quick succession, and it’s not long before the new couple decides to have a weekend together.
A flimsy excuse from Steve leads them to stay the first night at his house, where Noa makes an unexpected discovery. The film’s tagline, which says it’s “one woman’s provocative battle to survive her new boyfriend’s unusual appetites”, alludes to the twist, but the truth is the film goes a lot further. farther than most people’s imaginations ever could.
Directed by Mimi Cave and written by Lauryn Kahn, the film walks the line between normality and madness extremely well. What’s revealed about Steve is gruesome and gets worse as the film progresses, but his character is so balanced that it’s awfully easy to be as sucked into his charm as Noa. The juxtaposition continues throughout, making the gruesome moments all the more effective.
The filmmakers are constantly keeping audiences on their toes, including with the title and credits appearing 33 minutes into the film, a bold and fun choice. The humor is dispensed in small measures at various points, not so much that the film becomes a full-fledged comedy, but enough that it doesn’t affect the tone when a character jokes about something.
The movie plays on different horror tropes but transcends most of them. Part of that is because the story is a bit slow as Noa tries to get away from Steve. The film’s commentary on modern dating and toxic masculinity makes it something of a 2020s cousin Promising young womanalthough it pushes even more buttons than this movie, which is saying something.
Too bad the film is going straight to Hulu, because one could imagine it playing very well in theaters. The filmmakers drop the ball on a few side plot points near the end, almost as if the connecting pieces were accidentally removed. But the strength of the main story keeps the tension high until the film’s final moments.
Edgar-Jones, appearing in his first major project after his breakout role on Hulu’s normal people, is ideal for the role. She seems innocent and naive enough to fall for Steve’s trap, but can call on the force when needed. Stan, aside from his role in Hulu’s Pam and Tommyhas rarely been in the lead, but he always takes advantage of his opportunities, including here.
There are many moments in Costs which are hard to digest, but those undeterred by such scenes will find plenty to enjoy. There’s a lot of corporate Hulu synergy with the film’s cast, but when the two lead actors are this good, it’s something easy to forgive.