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Into the Dark: New Year, New You (Review)

Into the Dark is the new anthology series from Blumhouse.

A horror anthology series seemed inevitable. There is a rich tradition of television series built around using the anthology format to tell horror stories; The Twilight Zone, The Outer Limits, Tales from the Crypt. More than that, recent years have seen a resurgence in the popularity of anthology television. This is most obvious in the seasonal anthology structure of series like American Crime Story or American Horror Story, but is also reflected in the popularity and success of series like Black Mirror or Philip K. Dick’s Electric Dreams.

New year is the perfect time for… don’t make me say it

Horror is particularly suited to the anthology format. After all, having regular characters in a familiar setting tends to dilute both the suspense and the dread that runs through so much horror. The anthology format allows for a variety of characters, locations, formats and themes. Beyond that, Into the Dark is built around ninety-minute episodes, meaning that the series functions as an anthology of holiday-themed horror stories all telling self-contained tales.

Into the Dark is an effective reminder of just how much the medium of television has changed in recent years. Is Into the Dark best thought of as a television series or six feature films? The episodes are released online at Hulu. Unlike other net-native series Into the Dark eschews both the “all at once” binge model favoured by Netflix and the “one week at a time” approach that defines network television. Episodes are released when appropriate, rather than adhering to a rigid structure. It is an illustration of how fluid media is at the moment.

Pushed to the edge.

As the title implies, New Year, New You is the New Year entry in the series. Pooka! had been released for Christmas earlier in the month. New Year, New You is anchored in the themes of the holiday, in the ideas of renewal and reinvention. This is an interesting and audacious approach for a horror story to take. Certainly, New Year is a holiday that does not lend itself to horror as readily as Halloween or even Thanksgiving, and lacks the heightened irony of building a horror story around Christmas.

Perhaps accounting for this, New Year, New You leans heavily into dark comedy. The film does not work entirely consistently, effectively transitioning between three separate modes of horror within its ninety-minute runtime. There is very little novel or innovative to be found structurally in New Year, New You, which blazes through the familiar horror movie clichés with little in the way of insight or energy. There are moments when New Year, New You works rather well, particularly as it embraces absurdity in its third act. However, it is just too unfocused and uneven.

Deal with it.

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