I know a lot of people who would consider New Year’s the most disappointing of all holidays. Maybe it’s meant to always be disappointing. That’s what you get for having expectations?
You know what else is disappointing? Bloody New Year.
This 1987 British horror film was directed by Norman J Warren, a director I have zero experience with, but was supposedly an unusual, but interesting filmmaker. I assume that this wasn’t a highlight of his career.
On New Year’s Even in 1959 (turning into 1960) a group of party-goers welcome in the New Year in a hotel ballroom. A girl, the last left, stands in front of a mirror before she’s grabbed and pulled through.
Some twenty years later, a group of kids are spending the day at the seaside. It’s some time in July – not December. The two girls go off to speak to a fortune teller while the three boys stroll around. The boys soon catch a girl being terrorised on a tilt-a-whirl by a group of carnies at the funfair.
The boys step in, one of them even ruining the ride to help out the girl. The carnies chase the group of friends throughout the funfair, but the kids are eventually able to escape the three angry men.
They friends learn that the rescued girl is Carol, an American visiting on holiday. As her friends haven’t arrived yet, she agrees to go with the British group out on a boat.
While out at sea, the boat begins to sink and everyone is forced to jump ship. Luckily, they are not too far from an island are able to swim to shore. Only the island is booby-trapped. Which probably isn’t so lucky.
The cold, wet sack of friends search the island until they stumble upon a hotel. The hotel is, unusually for July, done up in Christmas and New Year’s decorations. But assuming it’s just “quirky,” the kids split up into couples to search for anyone in the hotel to speak to.
While looking around, strange things happen. A magazine closes itself, snooker balls reset themselves, and a ghostly maid appears to give Carol a blanket.
Despite that this hotel has been vacant for nearly 20 years (it’s the hotel from the beginning, shock), nothing seems really gross. Someone even manages to take a bath. The clothes in the suitcases are in perfect condition.
I live in Britain. I know how damp it is. There is no way that this shit would be in good shape. Unless, that is, that Ghost Maid is super good at her job and likes to keep up her work during her after life.
Eventually, a couple are able to turn on the power. The kids all change into the 50’s-style clothes they find in the guest rooms and get changed into dry clothing. In the background, a news show from the 1959 is playing on the TV in the background. This is apparently key, but will make no sense no matter how many times you watch it: New Year’s night there will be an experiment with an anti-radar device on a plane that will make the plane become invisible. And some dude on the show is mad about this.
Me too, I guess.
The kids eventually discover a cinema room in the hotel, which is playing Fiend Without a Face. When the film rolls out, a different film starts playing of three people in front of the hotel. One of the men in the film jumps out, and kills one of the boys. Since I don’t know his name, I don’t really care.
The remaining five run out of the hotel and decide to split up and look for help. The first couple, Lesley and Tom, find a home, but when they go inside, they don’t find the caretakers, but a sort of seaweed tablecloth monster that attacks Lesley, though Tom seems to kill it off?
The second couple, Janet and Rick, go into the woods where they hear laughter and see bushes shaking. A bit like Evil Dead but in the daylight (though everyone keeps referencing that it’s “getting dark”). They run to the beach where they see footprints appear then disappear. I don’t want to tell them that it’s just a trick of the film because they seem rather scared by this.
Janet and Rick see and explosion in the forest, and run to see it. They find the remains of the plane inside a burnt-out building.
Poor Carol is stuck waiting by the hotel. Thinking that being alone is a good idea. After getting freaked out, she chases after a figure that is clearly not her friends but is convinced that it is anyway. Though after getting freaking out in a similar with as Lesley and Tom (but with snow because nothing says “I’m going to kill you” like some wind), she runs back to the hotel.
Rick, Janet, Carol and Lesley are reunited at the hotel and go back to the house Lesley found with Tom. There’s a lot of this, in case you’re interested. But when they return, they find that the house has somehow ended up on the side of a cliff. That’s when they are attacked by one of the funfair men. Because that’s still a thing we care about.
The man punches Lesley in the stomach, but his fist goes through her stomach – revealing that she’s a ghoul of some sort. The three remaining not-dead-people, run away while the carny is killed by Ghoul Lesley. They fight off the other two carnies back at the hotel. Though Ghoul Lesley helps them in her own way by offing one herself.
Rick “kills” Ghoul Lesley and the three have a moment to think. That’s when Carol realises that the funfair men must have arrived by boat. She’s my favourite of this group. They decide to look for the boat when they bump into Tom, who looks badly wounded. And because they didn’t learn their lesson the first time, the leave Janet behind to take care of him while Rick and Carol go to look for the boat.
Unsurprisingly, Janet gets attacked by Tom, who is also one of these ghouls. Carol and Rick are too late to save her, and she’s sucked into an elevator wall. They decide to run around the hotel endlessly, dodging kitchen knives, carnies and various traps until they end up in the ballroom.
Some woman on the stage says something about an “Elimination Waltz” and at this point, I could care less, but the imagery gets a bit more dream-like and interesting. She tells Carol and Rick something about the plane crash and how the experiment went wrong, shattering time itself.
If that means something to you, congratulations.
The two try to leave. Are trapped in the games room where all party-goers from 1960, the carnies and their friends stand around and taunt them.
When Carol and Rick finally do think they’ve escaped, they run for the boat. Unsurprisingly, neither escapes. Rick is stupid and goes back for his clearly-dead girlfriend, and Carol is pulled into the sea like it’s a dream about Camp Crystal Lake.
In the weirdest ‘twist’ of the ending, we see the British kids dancing around the ballroom with the 1960’s folk, but poor Carol is in the mirror! WHY IS CAROL IN THE MIRROR? Why has any of this happened?
Bloody New Year is a pile of confusing shit that is a lot more boring than it should be. It’s clearly a misleading title trying to capitalise on holiday video sales, I can let that go, but it lacks on so many other levels. Where is the blood? Where is the explanation to why these people are forever stuck on this island?
Some of the scenes are rather good-looking, which might make it worth watching once. But this movie is not as good as some people would lead you to believe. And it certainly isn’t a good movie for New Year’s. While the plot certainly sounds fun, this is a lot of potential squandered by a poor script.
There is one bright side. We all know I’m a sucker for an original song. And damn do they milk the hell out of this song. If you don’t have this memorised by the end, you’re not paying attention. The band Cry No More provide a few tracks that are pretty catchy, but couldn’t be more out of place.
Thaaaaat’s a recipe for romance!