New year, same horror cliches in 4th episode of ‘Into the Dark’

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Grade: 2.5/5.0

Some people take New Year’s resolutions too far. When jealousy of your friend’s latest successes mixes with some bad blood from the past, it’s best to self-reflect and talk things out — unless you’re the women in this show, who instead tie said friend to a chair and beat each other senseless.

This all plays out in “New Year, New You,” the fourth episode of Hulu’s original horror anthology series “Into the Dark.” Produced by Blumhouse Television, the episode went live Dec. 28 — just in time for the actual New Year’s season.

Each episode of the series revolves around a different holiday and features a different director. This particular episode was directed by Sophia Takal. While Takal has some experience working on spooky movies, it’s apparent that the young director is still developing her cinematic originality.

“New Year, New You” centers on four friends — Alexis (Suki Waterhouse), Danielle (Carly Chaikin), Kayla (Kirby Howell-Baptiste) and Chloe (Melissa Bergland) — who reconnect years after high school to ring in 2019 with a New Year’s Eve girls’ night that soon goes sour. The 20-somethings have their holiday fun in the home of Alexis’ parents, where haunting memories arise from their youth.

As Alexis, Waterhouse boasts an overall stellar performance. The actress has historically tended toward darker roles, and this experience shows in this episode.

The character of Danielle is basically unlikable from every angle of her personality, an unsavory personality that Chaikin portrays well. Danielle is the owner of a successful health products business and thus makes sure every one of her million followers understands how successful she is.

Throughout “New Year, New You,” typical Hollywood horror cliches stand loud and clear. The power goes out in the house (more than once), a car breaks down, and someone visits the women warning of danger. Many of these scenes are over-the-top — such as when Alexis basically waterboards Danielle with a bottle of champagne to ring in the midnight countdown and force a confession.

The cute friendship moments of the episode add relief from these various unsuccessful attempts at suspense. A dance sequence to TLC’s “Unpretty” and a round of “Never Have I Ever” bring high school nostalgia to the picture. Such elements of the episode lightheartedly help viewers see that they may not be the only ones who reminisce on their teenage years.

Cinematographer Lyn Moncrief’s camerawork surely isn’t award-winning, but it tells the story well enough to keep viewers entertained and following along. But some moments, such as a subtle zoom in on some knives in the kitchen within the first 15 minutes of the show, just shouldn’t have happened. It isn’t too often that a camera shot is cheesy, but ones like this take the cake.

The scoring of the show, composed by Michael Montes, isn’t prime either. It really isn’t even noticeable until almost an hour in, when the overly dramatic music distracts from an intense conversation between Danielle and Chloe. At just under an hour and a half long, the episode is overloaded with these sudden distractions. These are more technical mishaps than any having to do with acting or storyline.

The next episode of “Into the Dark” is scheduled to air Feb. 1 to continue the show’s premiere season, so viewers can probably expect something Valentine’s Day-themed to follow the trend. If you’re looking for some fresh, new horror on your computer this semester, watch reruns of “American Horror Story” on Netflix — even if you’ve already seen it, it will still feel newer than this.

Contact Skylar De Paul at [email protected]. Tweet her at @skylardepaul.