New Year, New You
(Into the Dark)
My friend has me back into this series, so now I'm watching them in order. This one is (obviously) the January episode. It was directed by Sophia Takal, who just made the remake of Black Christmas
Four old high school friends (Alexis, Danielle, Kaela, and Chloe) decide to meet up for a New Year's eve party. Brief flashbacks and ominous shots of them in old photos show us that *something* bad happened in the house when they were younger. In the present, Alexis sports a nasty scar on her face and works as a babysitter. Danielle, on the other hand, has achieved internet fame with her wellness vlogging and is on the cusp of a network deal for a TV show. The party carries on for a good while as a female bonding ideal: The house is equipped with a sauna, the ladies sit around in face masks and drink champagne, and then a game of "I never" takes a turn . . .
Much like the episode I just watched, Treehouse
, this episode centers on someone who has done wrong being taken to task by people from their past. This one, however, is actually pretty good.
To begin with, the dynamics between the friends are pretty well written. They are all in very different places in their lives, and the passive-aggressive way that they take little swipes at each other are very well written. The mix of jealousy and anger makes it hard to tell, sometimes, why the different women are being aggressive with each other.
Probably the most fun aspect of the film is the way that it parodies wellness culture, really driving home how often wellness/fitness personalities are really just flexing (their beauty, their wealth) and chasing money. Nonsensical affirmations and organic juices sold to fans who believe that they could have the same successes. But my favorite element of the film (MODERATE SPOILERS) is that
The only real drawback to this one was that, like many of these episodes, it lacks nuance as it goes along. In this format of the over-the-top slasher, this lack of nuance doesn't feel as out of place, but it still chafes a bit. For example, at one point Danielle is put in a green face mask and thick lipstick and she looks a LOT like a certain Batman villain.
Overall the action is pretty good and the film makes good use of the mansion setting. The direction feels very 80s, but in a good way. There are a LOT of shots in mirrors, which does thematically fit the whole internet culture element, but becomes a very noticeable choice as it gets repeated.
I'd probably put this right under Pooka
in terms of being my favorite of the series so far, though I think that the style choices in Pooka
would probably be more divisive.