Into the Dark’s New Year New You: Secrets and lies are the best party favors


Happy New Years! Blumhouse is back with the latest installment in their anthology series Into the Dark. New Year New You premieres on Hulu on December 28th. I highly recommend it. It’s creepy, funny, and pays off in a dark way.

New Year New You was written by Adam Gaines (The Bridge) and Sophia Takal (Green). It was directed by Sophia Takal, as well. From the start of the episode, I got the feel of classic 1970s and early 1980s horror movies. The camera looms in and out of focus.

We get a long shot of a pool with a rando dead body in it that we just know plays a big role. Even the title font is similar to The Exorcist, The Omen, and, in later years, Law & Order.

As the story develops and the plot unfolds, you’ll recognize themes that are very relevant in today’s world. The fascination with celebrity, addiction to social media, and self-help gurus are all in deep focus. Entitlement also gets the spotlight in a way that only Blumhouse would shine it.

This is also a relatable story. We’ve all had a best friend that drifted away. The reason behind that is some animosity.

You want to confront that person because, even though you strive to live your best life, you’re petty. You need to let them know how much they suck. To be safe, you invite two level headed friends along.

That’ll keep you on your best behavior. Except it doesn’t. Oh, and those two level headed friends?

One of them is kind of jealous of the other, so they’re not really on the level. Ok, I love New Year New You. Let’s discuss it.

Never Have I Ever

In the party scenario that I just mentioned, Suki Waterhouse (Assassination Nation) plays Alexis, the person who has a score to settle. We don’t know that, yet. When we first meet her, Alexis is babysitting and watching her ex-best friend Danielle, played by Carly Chaikin (Mr. Robot). She’s turned into an Internet self help guru who has quickly worked her way up the ranks.

In the new year, Danielle will start hosting a show of her own called Get Well Danielle. The sponsor seems to be her own line of Very Very Vegetable juices.

Alexis is heated. This isn’t news, but her reaction is equal to someone who’s just found out about it. Alexis is filled with nervous energy, hate, and a little bit of jealousy.

Yes. I really got that from Waterhouse’s performance right off the bat. Alexis wants to act now, but must wait for something.

New Year New You-Into the Dark-Courtesy of Richard Foreman/Hulu

Cut to New Year’s Eve. Alexis has invited Danielle to a party along with two of her more level headed friends. Melissa Bergland (Spin Out) gives a heartbreaking performance as Chloe. Kirby Howell-Baptiste (Killing Eve) grounds the entire episode with her portrayal of Kayla. They have a great introductory scene in Kayla’s car during a rainstorm.

Chloe is lusting after a pair $5,000 boots she sees online. Kayla is discussing the rigors of being a child therapist. Then, her car does the horror movie thing and dies, which we learn isn’t the first time.

At that point, Chloe berates Kayla for only owning one umbrella in a playful, yet cutting way. The priorities of these characters are set immediately.

Back to the party! We discover this is the first time Alexis has been in this house since her friend Kelsey, played by Isabella Acres (Better Off Ted), committed suicide approximately ten years earlier. We learn from flashbacks that Kelsey was being chased and taunted around the house.

She eventually jumps out the window of Alexis’ bedroom and into the pool. Kelsey is the dead body from the opening shot of the episode.

As the evening plays out, the different activities seem fun. But, things come to a head, as they often do, during a game of Never Have I Ever.

New Year New You-Into the Dark-Courtesy of Richard Foreman/Hulu

Alexis point blank blames Danielle for bullying Kelsey so hard that it drove her to her death. Things get physical. As the clock strikes midnight, she fully lets go of her rage and becomes a whole new Alexis.

She waterboards Danielle with champagne. That will end up being fitting for both of these characters. There’ll be more on that later.

The rest of the episode turns into a quest to get Danielle to admit to her bullying to her fans on the Internet. That would ruin her career and prevent her show from ever airing. What follows is a battle royale between four distinct, powerful women.

Where a lot of production studios are undoubtedly going to look to bring back slasher films with the success of the Halloween sequel/reboot, this is a throwback to the hysterical women drive-in flicks of the 1970s.

Except these women are for real. Whoever ends up being the final girl will have earned the title.

Straining to Focus

I mentioned the camera’s tendency to move in and out of focus. That’s a stylistic nod to horror movies of the 1970s. But it also helps us to inform our story.

It focuses in and out on all of the key locations within Alexis’ house. Then it does the same over many of the weapons that will be used. These camera moves are made before the title card appears.

New Year New You-Into the Dark-Courtesy of Richard Foreman/Hulu

This continues throughout the episode. It’s a little like Easy Rider’s not-so-subliminal cuts. We are constantly told who to look at and where to look at them.

But it’s not cheesy. The episode is not being dumbed down for us. It serves to create tension.

The camera seems to have an issue finding a point to focus on Alexis and Danielle most of the time. It mimics the audience’s growing inability to determine who these two characters are and where they’re coming from. Meanwhile, grounded Kayla is almost in focus immediately.

We know who she is and we need her as a touchtone. Waterhouse, Chaikin, and Howell-Baptiste gave the camera and editors rich portrayals to shape in post production.

One of my favorite running camera moves is when scenes start or end with the camera aimed at a circular mirror. Director of Photography Lyn Moncrief (The Resurrection of Gavin Stone) played a role in this, but this is Takal driving home a point that becomes clearer throughout the narrative.

Alexis and Danielle are reflections of each other. One may have higher status and the spoils that go with it, but there’s something morally corrupt about both of the characters.

What About Kelsey? (Spoilers Ahead)

There’s one thing I left out about Alexis. She has a scar running across the left side of her jawline. In the most important flashback to Kelsey’s suicide, we see her hiding from someone.

She’s confronted, breaks a bottle, and slashes Alexis’ face. Then, and only then, does Kelsey fly out of the window to her death.

So, there’s this controversial theory out there about Ophelia in Hamlet. She’s always referred to as some shrieking damsel in distress who does what shrieking damsels in distress do: kill themselves.

When I’ve read the play, it sounds like Hamlet’s mom killed her and neatly covers it up. There’s a lot of thought on it. If you’re interested, check out The Original Shakespeare Blog later on for more scholarly insight.

What the hell does the Ophelia Complex have to do with New Year New You? I suggest that Kelsey didn’t kill herself. She was murdered. Either way, Kelsey is disregarded as meaningless collateral damage in a bigger war.

New Year New You-Into the Dark-Courtesy of Richard Foreman/Hulu

While we thought Alexis was trying to avenge Kelsey’s suicide, we may actually be watching her avenge her role in murdering Kelsey. We don’t see her get pushed by anybody.

But, I think Danielle pushes Kelsey far enough to strike Alexis. She responds in a very lethal way.

Man, alive! The sense of entitlement is off the charts! Alexis believes she deserves the life that Danielle has. She maybe believes that Danielle orchestrated the whole Kelsey thing to eliminate her competition.

Alexis hatches this party plan and gets a bunch of innocent people involved just to get her way. Danielle uses some of those people as weapons in the fight. A fight over who gets to be an Internet self-help guru!

I am so in love with this episode! I thought Pooka! set the bar for Into the Dark, but it has met its match in New Year New You.

Next. The Exorcist 45 years later and its lasting effect on the horror genre. dark

This Hulu exclusive premieres on December 28th. I highly recommend it. The acting is multilayered and shows us the four distinct paths of the characters. The narrative is driven by Takal’s script revisions and direction. Stream New Year New You and live your best life.

Have you been watching Into the Dark? Do you like it? Will you be streaming New Year New You? Let’s discuss in the comments!