(director/writer: Christin Baker; screenwriter:Kathryn Trammell/story by Trammell, Baker, Danielle Jablonski, Ashley Arnold; cinematographer: Micah Ellars; editor: Jaclyn Chessen; music: Emer Kinsella; cast: Dia Frampton (Layne Price), Ashley Argota (Cassie Holmes), Candis Cayne (Zelena/Marley), Andrew Brennen (Freddie), Kelly Lynn Reiter (Caroline), Tamiko Robinson Steele (Toni), Kristen Merlin (June), Rebecca Lines (Arlene); Runtime: 78; MPAA Rating: NR; producers: Ashley Arnold, Christin Baker, Danielle Jablonski; Tello Films; 2020)

Though it’s a better quality film than most holiday gay Lifetime romance films, it still comes across as a gay Lifetime romance film.

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

TV director, producer and the founder/CEO of Tello, the film’s releasing company, Christin Baker, in her feature film debut offers this well-crafted but superficial feel-good gay romance and comedy. The story was initiated by Kathryn Trammell, who wrote it with Baker, Danielle Jablonski, and Ashley Arnold.

IHNY uses original music, which is a big plus. Its title rock song is “Flatline,” that’s written by Billy Steinberg and Josh Alexander. The song’s theme echoes the film’s, that it’s about a love gone wrong for the heroine. The music becomes an important part of the film, as it pushes the plot forward.

I was attracted to the film because I also hate New Year’s and the title caught my attention. My personal reasons for my hatred date back to when I was a teen and didn’t get invited to parties and couldn’t get a date for the celebration. Growing up I dreaded I would have to spend New Year’s Eve alone and never looked forward to the holiday. But when the film turned out to be a sweet gay Hallmark film, it wasn’t what I wanted to see and I was disappointed. But its target teen audience might love this film.

As the story goes, Layne Price (Dia Frampton) is a new pop star suffering from writer’s block,which is preventing her from following-up her successful debut album with another. Her publicist’s psychic, Zelena (Candis Cayne), feels it might help to leave L.A. and go back to her hometown of Nashville for New Year’s Eve. She’s driven there by Marley (Cayne, in a double role). Also on the ride is Layne’s best friend and fellow musician Cassie (Ashley Argota), who has a secret crush on her and doesn’t know how to tell her.

Back in Nashville for New Year’s Eve, Layne must face the music of what she left behind. We learn that it has only been a year since Layne left her former band and girlfriend Caroline (Kelly Lynn Reiter), as we catch up on the back story and learn about the dynamics taking place on the trip home for the fragile star who finds her old friends treat her warmly, especially the flamboyant Freddie (Andrew Brennen), and don’t condemn her for whatever she might have done to betray them.

The film shoots for some sort of magical realism, and in its coming-of-age motif shows the star becoming more self-aware and the musician characters she knows all being likable.

Though it’s a better quality film than most holiday gay Lifetime romance films, it still comes across as a gay Lifetime romance film.

  Dia Frampton and Ashley Argota in I Hate New Year's

REVIEWED ON 12/8/2020  GRADE: C+