Main cast: Briana Evigan (Helen), Zulay Henao (Christie), Niall Matter (Eddie), and Cory Monteith (James)
Director: Darren Lynn Bousman
Of course we can’t have a horror anthology series these days without a zombie outbreak, and New Year’s Day is that episode in Fear Itself. And no matter how ravenous the zombies may be, they will not stop our female protagonist Helen from finding the man of her dreams, James.
Helen, a socially awkward young woman, considers the more outgoing Christie and the genial Eddie her only true friends in this woman. She is convinced that James is the love of her life, oblivious to the fact that Eddie is head over heels in love with her. Eddie, just as socially awkward as her, enables her one-sided infatuation with James as an excuse for him to remain close to her. And if James doesn’t quite succeed in telling her to get out of his face, I don’t blame him, because Helen is that creepy girl who keeps doing things that make everyone around her uncomfortable, and yet there is something… special about her that prevents others from being honest with her about what a pain in the rear end she is.
This soap opera comes to a boil during a New Year countdown party, when Helen wakes up from what seems like a bad hangover to a brave new world. Apparently some industrial accident caused people to turn into zombies that infect other people, and hence it’s a walking braindead party for everyone. Oh dear, Eddie is now one of them too! Naturally, Helen’s natural instinct compels her to brave the zombie horde out there to look for her precious James, with Eddie trailing after her. So, the adventure begins.
Okay, New Year’s Day has a gimmicky twist that isn’t all that bad. It’s interesting, but unfortunately, it doesn’t make much sense. Really, this episode should have been part of the Masters of Horror series, as it would then be allowed to be as gory as can be. Here, the efforts to hide the gore to make this episode mainstream TV channel-friendly are really obvious to the point of making my eyes roll up in an “Oh, please!” manner – for example, furniture conveniently hides the sight of a zombie tearing out a victim’s innards from my tender eyes. Without any good gore or other types of squeamish or scary moments to distract me, I begin to notice enough things to enable me to correctly guess the twist early.
Also, it’s hard to root for Helen in any way, as she’s an unsympathetic character. This wretch is a stalker who refuses to see sense and harasses James with disturbing proclamations of affection, when that guy looks like he’d rather die than to spend even a minute in her company. Poor James is the one I end up feeling sorry for.
Anyway, New Year’s Day tries to be a smart, gimmicky episode, but it’s nowhere as smart as it pretends to be. Furthermore, without much scare or gore to be had here, there’s nothing to keep me from focusing my attention on the annoying Helen. And god damn it, she’s really bloody annoying.