New Year’s Evil (1980) Review: Four New Years for the Price of One
“A celebration of the macabre”
Synopsis: During a New Year’s Eve celebration, a Los Angeles disc jockey receives a phone call saying that when New Year’s strikes in each time zone, someone will be murdered – and she will be the last one.
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New Year’s Evil is a halfway decent slasher – and I do mean “halfway.” During a live broadcast NYE celebration, the DJ (Roz Kelly) receives a call claiming that there will be a murder as the clock strikes midnight in each time zone. And while premise and characters are interesting, the story is shaky at best and the effects leave a lot to be desired. It’s also thoroughly ’80s, which depending on your tastes is either very good or very bad.
Perhaps one of the most striking things about New Year’s Evil to a modern audience is that the killer is not only unmasked, but revealed quite early on. I actually found that more entertaining than problematic; not only does the killer switch disguises/characters surprisingly well, but it was also fun to see things from his point of view. Though New Year’s Evil does nothing to humanize its killer, the audience gets to see him as he struggles to fulfill his elaborate plan – his stress, his anger, his frustration – and that shit is HILARIOUS.
It’s too bad it’s part of such a half-assed plot. There are threads which are never picked up again, some partial attempts at backstories for multiple characters that are never completed, and a lot of generally weird occurrences that aren’t really explained. New Year’s Evil could have been a solid, if mostly unmemorable, slasher… if it were comprehensible. As it is, the audience is left to sort out what the movie meant to say at the end, which isn’t an exercise you’ll want to do after what should be a dumb slasher.
If you’re into the ’80s – specifically murder, New Wave, and absolutely ghastly outfits – you’ll probably find New Year’s Evil a fun, if confusing, offering. It was frequently nonsensical (and predictable when it wasn’t), but it still has quite a few memorable moments. You could do worse, but you could also definitely do better.
Calamity Brains’ Rating: C
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