J.B. Spins

Jazz, film, and improvised culture.

Tuesday, December 25, 2018

Into the Dark: New Year, New You


If you thought there was something profoundly sinister about bubbly, self-help YouTubers, Danielle Williams will confirm the heck of it for you. The veggie juice lifestyle social media maven is about to make the leap to television, but first she will ring in the New Year with her old high school besties. It goes badly for almost all of them in Sophia Takal’s New Year, New You (trailer here), the New Year installment of Hulu’s Blumhouse-produced monthly holiday horror anthology, which premieres this Friday.

Something happened in Alexis’s house during her high school years that she has yet to recover from. As a result, her parents had it sealed up tight to keep intruders out. Of course, that security glass will also makes it difficult to get out. Alexis and her average friends, Kayla and Chloe have invited Williams to join them for New Year’s. Much to their surprise, she agrees, perhaps for a cheap ego boost. Naturally, she intends to document everything on social media, but Alexis plans to take things offline.

Kayla and Chloe agreed to help Alexis confront Williams and maybe get some closure if and when she cops to her role in the unfortunate events of the past. However, matters quickly escalate and intensify. Soon it is bestie against bestie.

Takal and co-screenwriter Adam Gaines penned a largely straightforward revenge-horror thriller, but her execution as director is quite stylish. There are plenty of very-now uber-connected elements, but there are also nods to the look and vibe of 1970s made-for-TV horror movies that genre fans are sure to appreciate.

Suki Waterhouse acts appropriately moody and convincingly damaged as Alexis. Nevertheless, Carly Chaikin overshadows everyone as the utterly terrifying Williams. Anyone that manipulative, ruthless, and condescending is just a flat-out monster. There is no question, you’d be better off facing Jason, Freddy, or Leatherface rather than her.

Although New You shares some thematic siilarities with Takal’s Always Shine, this is her most traditional and fully realized work in the horror genre as a director. It is not so gory compared to Blumhouse’s theatrical films, but it definitely offers up a ghoulish   of human nature.Think of it as Mean Girls, taken to its logical extreme.

It is quite nice of Blumhouse and Hulu to keep bringing us together for the holidays. Into the Dark is kind of like the Charlie Brown specials, but with higher body counts. There are not so many surprises in Takal & Gaines’ narrative, but it is really well-produced installment, featuring a knockout performance from Chaikin. Recommended for genre fans, Into the Dark: New Year, New You starts streaming this Friday (12/28) on Hulu. Merry Christmas.

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