New Year’s Eve

Viewing the New Years Eve Short of Holidays (2016) Through a Psychiatrist's Lens

Posted Dec 31, 2018

Synopsis

Holidays is a horror anthology of subversive short films, each inspired by a different holiday celebration. In the ‘New Year’s Eve’ short, we are introduced to Reggie who meets Jean through a dating site. When he goes to meet her for New Year's Eve, Reggie learns the true meaning of “Should old acquaintance be forgot!” The film has an approval rating of 50% on Rotten Tomatoes and 5.1 out of 10 on IMDb.

How it relates to the field of psychiatry

[Spoiler alert] When the happy couple returns to Jean's apartment to ring in the New Year, Reggie discovers that Jean keeps severed limbs and organs in jars. The date of the century turns out to be between two individuals afflicted with Antisocial Personality Disorder (ASPD). While theories exist about the dynamic between such individuals in a relationship, this clip focuses on the psychosocial factors that contribute to the etiology of the personality disorder.

ASPD affects about 3% of the general population and is twice as prevalent in men as women (1). From a biological perspective, the testosterone hypothesis (2) has been proposed to explain this gender disparity. The film’s twist is based ‘the bio’ of the biopsychosocial model; if you’re holding your breath when Reggie goes into the bathroom to prepare the chloroform, then you’re surprised at the discovery of the severed limbs and organs in jars and corpses in her bathtub. It’s more than just testosterone that’s pushing this narrative forward. The psychosocial factors influencing Jean’s personality are as severe as if not worse than Reggie’s.

The development of such personality traits would make for an interesting prequel that upon review of the forensic literature is likely to include a history of abusive relationships, alcohol, and drugs. For added detail, Jean (actually Jeanne) was born in a small fishing village in northern France. She left home for Paris at age 14, working various menial jobs until her first marriage. Her first husband was afflicted with Alcohol Use Disorder. Those familiar with the forensic literature shouldn’t be surmised to learn that our antagonist’s last name is Weber.

References

Martens WHJ. Antisocial and Psychopathic Personality Disorders: Causes, Course, and Remission: A Review Article. International Journal of Offender Therapy and Comparative Criminology 2000; 44(4): 406-430.

Aromäki AS. Testosterone, aggressiveness, and antisocial personality, Aggressive Behavior, 25(2): 113-123, January 1999.