What does director Sophia Takal think of New Year’s Eve?
“I actually hate New Year’s Eve,” says the filmmaker. “Anything that reminds me that time is going by seizes me with anxiety. I haven’t had anything murderous happen — but I definitely find it an unpleasant holiday.”
While that might mean Takal is not the best companion with which to party on Dec. 31, it did make her perfect to direct the horror-thriller New Year, New You. The film concerns three friends who meet up with another old pal — a now famous social media star — to see in the New Year. Produced by Blumhouse, New Year, New You is part of Hulu’s Into the Dark anthology horror series and premieres on the streaming service Dec. 28.
“It’s a darkly comic horror movie about a group of friends from high school who reconnect,” says Takal, whose previous directing credits include 2017’s Mackenzie Davis-starring Always Shine. “One of the women is a self-care social media celebrity, and there’s a lot of tension between the women and issues from the past that come out in weird ways.”
Carly Chaikin from Mr. Robot plays the social media celebrity while Suki Waterhouse, Kirby Howell-Baptiste, and Melissa Bergland portray her high school buddies.
“I worked with a casting director that Blumhouse brought on and we talked a lot about wanting there to be different types of women in the movie,” says Takal. “Also important was finding actresses who are not only very talented — which all of these women are — but also intelligent, thoughtful, [and] who wanted to [explore] self-care, social media culture and how it can breed a lot of narcissism. For me, it’s not just about making a movie, but it’s also about examining issues and seeing if we can learn something and work together to explore these things together as a cast and crew. Hopefully, that bleeds into the movie, so that when people are watching it, they question the ideas they have about what it means to be successful, what it means to be valuable as a human being. So much of our society is outwardly-focused and focused on external validation, and social media turns us into a product in a way, always needing more and more validation. I think that can be insidious and damaging to people, especially young women.”
In October, Blumhouse founder Jason Blum caused controversy when he told Polygon that there are “not a lot of female directors period, and even less who are inclined to do horror,” in an attempt to explain the lack of women filmmakers backed by the company. Blum subsequently apologized for the comment and Takal insists her experience of working for Blumhouse was a positive one.
“I worked a lot with the television side of Blumhouse,” she says. “There are some extraordinary people who work there and they were just so supportive. I always felt what they were trying to do was make my ideas the best version that they could be, as opposed to trying to fit me into some other thing. So, it was a really positive experience for me.”
Watch an exclusive clip from New Year, New You above and the film’s trailer, below.
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