Into the Dark: New Year, New You (2018)
Updated: Jun 1, 2023
In the spirit of the upcoming new year this week I watched, New Year, New You, a 2018 Into the Dark film. Directed by Sophia Takal this horror flick follows a reunion of friends who have fallen out of touch with their now social media star fourth group member, Danielle Williams, played by Carly Chaikin. Danielle is on the come up and her three friends, Alexis, Kaela, and Chloe are not pleased about it. Alexis, played by Suki Waterhouse, is the main protagonist despite her committing some of the initial criminal acts.
It becomes clear early on that something went down between Danielle and the rest of the group and that they haven’t been in contact due to whatever this event was combined with Danielle being above them in social status now. Danielle is your typical mid 2010’s social media influencer, very disingenuous and promoting the idea of living your “best life” no matter what. Her fans are referred to as mindless zombies at least twice in the film and it’s apparent that Alexis feels above the glorification of this lifestyle in front of an iPhone. Kaela, played by Kirby Howell-Baptiste, and Chloe, played by Melissa Bergland, however seem somewhat caught up in the status that Danielle doesn’t let them forget. Especially Chloe when it becomes apparent that she has the least going for her and feels the most down about her life at the point the movie takes place.
Kaela on the other hand is the most balanced character. Her backstory of being a closest-ed lesbian in high school makes sense and she is flourishing in life having started dating a great woman and having a fulfilling career. She seems to have a good relationship with each of the other group members and plays devil's advocate multiple times, trying to reason with her unhinged friends.
Alexis is set up to appear to be the most unhinged of all. The setting of the film is her parent’s house that they intend to sell and the scar on her jaw line is used as a tool to draw her back into a vengeful mindset throughout the buildup of the plot. Alexis mentions at one point that she had a mental breakdown and had to leave college due to whatever happened between the four women in high school.
The only person who doesn’t seem to know how to be human is Danielle. She shows up and wants to jump right back into their friend groups intimacy despite having ghosted them for much of their adult lives. She constantly brings up influencer-esque topics and brags about her lifestyle. During the scene where we learn more about each character’s background she opts to share nothing about herself but rather push the other characters to bare their souls to her. She’s manipulative and crafty. So it’s not all too surprising that when she is confronted by the other three’s true motives of the night she quickly turns from victim to villain.
See, the three women have lured Danielle here to force her to confess that she bullied a high school classmate of theirs to commit suicide after torturing her. In spite of Danielle going more mainstream in the upcoming new year they feel it is only right that the public know the truth about her and essentially get her canceled. Danielle however flips the script and reframes the incident when they try to record her confessing. This buys her time and while Kaela goes to FaceTime her girlfriend and Alexis goes to talk to her Danielle convinces Chloe, the weakest willed of the group, that she can help her live her best life and become social media famous if she lets her go. Chloe of course falls for this and the two are now on the same side, the “let's kill the other two” side.
This causes Danielle and Chloe to lock Kaela and Alexis into the sauna in this mansion of a home and turn the heat up. They plan to let them die in there and then call the police, explaining that they just happened upon their bodies and are in utter shock. This is a brutal way to kill someone, especially someone you were just calling your bestie. Of course this is not how the movie ends because this is way too short of a run time for a full-length film so the two bust on out of there. Unfortunately they’d all decided to go tech-less to bond more during their celebration and now Alexis and Kaela have no way of contacting the police, furthering the plot.
Long story short Chloe kills Kaela by accident when Chloe believes she’s coming in between her and her new and better life. After this Chloe and Danielle hunt Alexis around the house and they have a face off or two. Kaela’s girlfriend, Frankie, shows up concerned about Kaela and Chloe stabs her because her and Danielle have a plan to pin all of the murders on her. Chloe gets smacked in the head and falls down the stairs to her death and Danielle and Alexis face off on the second floor. Alexis pushes Danielle through a window after Danielle almost kills her in a poetic justice way since somehow Alexis fell out of her parent’s bedroom window into the pool in high school. This I wasn’t too sure about but I know it’s a callback and that’s what matters.
Alexis goes on to take Danielle’s place as a stereotypical influencer who has framed the crime as a jealous lover murdering her lover and her friends. This segues into a demonstration on self defense, which had been Danielle’s plan for getting out of this mess and how to capitalize off of the drama of it all.
I really wanted to know what exactly had happened with the girl who killed herself due to what Alexis and Danielle did to her in high school. I found it interesting that Alexis didn’t feel any responsibility that she placed on Danielle solely despite being present and involved. It made it apparent that no character in this movie is totally in the right or righteous (except sort of Kaela, even though she agreed to lure Danielle to her demise). Alexis is clearly mentally unstable and I have great suspicion that it’s not entirely because of the events that took place many years before. Chloe’s character just sort of maintained her desperation throughout and Danielle showed the true colors that the viewers gut feeling told them she had.
A decent time capsule of the social media influencer trope with a dark twist, this movie is a fast watch if not a tad slow at times. A lot of the tension building felt like useless filler and the plot is obvious from the very beginning. Not terrible but also only a movie I’d watch during New Years because it’s based around New Years.
Recommended score: 3/10 for anytime and 5/10 for New Years specific horror