Well, I think we have a Fear Itself episode that is even worse than In Sickness and In Health. That’s right, gang; tonight’s episode manages to suck spectacularly on its own merit, without the added objectionable factor of pedophilia added in to put it over the edge of awful. At least the poorly-written and uninteresting Sickness had a director who used to be really good 20 years ago; New Year’s Day is helmed by Saw II, Saw III, and Saw IV auteur Darren Lynn Bousman.
I use the word auteur deliberately. Dictionary.com defines an auteur as “a filmmaker whose individual style and complete control over all elements of production give a film its personal and unique stamp.”
There’s no doubt every Darren Lynn Bousman production has its own “personal and unique” stamp. As in, “Personally I think he’s the worst thing to happen to low-budget horror movies since CGI, he is uniquely awful when it comes to overusing his gimmicky filming techniques, and I’d like to stamp out his film career before it spreads any further.”
New Year’s Day takes place on, uh… New Year’s Day, and Helen (Briana Evigan) partied a little too much the night before. So when she wakes up hung over at 4:32 the next morning, it’s not surprising. What might be a surprise is the fact that she wakes up in the middle of the apocalypse. Specifically, some sort of zombie-style apocalypse.
You can tell the situation is bad because the camera is constantly moving. I don’t think there is one single steady camera shot in the entire show. When you combine the constantly jiggling camera with the artificial reverb effects, the jittery over-caffeinated editing, and the disjointed and annoying script by Steve Niles and Ben Sokolowski caused me to give up actually trying to follow the story and its various flashbacks and cutaways. The gist of it is there was a horrible accident, some chemical got released, and now there are zombies, and our heroine is trying to escape to the home of James (Cory Montieth), her boyfriend who may not be her boyfriend, to find safety.
Of course, because they only have script enough for half an hour, we get a ton of padding. Helen fumbles around her dark apartment building for ages. We get many, many shots of her drinking to excess. We get a lot of her fumbling on the phone, trying to talk to people. Even with the occasional zombie attack and some terrifically gore set pieces (by network TV standards), I was completely and totally bored throughout the episode.
Briana Evigan does all that she is required to do. She shows up, walks around in a dress and combat boots, shows a lot of impressive cleavage, and sounds like Lindsay Lohan if LiLo chain-smoked filterless cigarettes and broken glass. Actually, her voice is husky, but not as grating as I make it out to be. She does sound almost exactly like Lohan, though. However, she’s absolutely gorgeous, which made the already boring plot even harder to focus on. Her whole vibe suggests salad-days Lindsay, down to the drinking from a bottle of booze and having roughly the same haircut.
Aside from that? This was an awful episode of Fear Itself. Boring, incomprehensible, and frankly nauseating if you tried to watch it too closely. Entirely too much jittering and shaking and out of focus camerawork designed to make me scared of the nothing that was going on for most of the show. Combine that with the constant flash of jumpcuts and I’m surprised that epileptics weren’t falling out of their chairs in seizures throughout the country.
US Cultural Ambassador for Geekdom Ron Hogan is glad he wasn’t drinking during Fear Itself, as he would’ve gotten sick from all the bloody spinning and twirling. Find more by Ron at his blog, Subtle Bluntness, and daily at Shaktronics.