Ted Geoghegan’s Brooklyn 45 hits Shudder Friday and is an engrossing chamber piece that feels like the perfect mix of Twilight Zone and Tales from the Crypt. You know, a self contained character driven story with just enough supernatural mystery to hook you and just enough gore and revelations to keep you there. The film takes place in New York in the aftermath of World War 2 when a group of friends who all served together are summoned to a NY brownstone by their colleague Lt. Col. Clive Hockstatter (Larry Fessendenx) who’s wife Susan recently died. Turns out the four veterans and Marla’s husband Bob, have all been gathered together to attempt a séance, so Clive can reach out to his wife who committed suicide because no one believed her that her neighbors were secretly Nazi spies.
The cast here composed of both character actors and headliners are all given their moments to shine, with some extremely engaging and empathetic takes thanks to some stellar performances, coupled with some thought provoking metaphors. The film itself is an interesting take on the cyclical nature of hate and prejudice, but using a post World War II New York to mirror our current US landscape. A few years ago it would have been immigrants, today it’s trans people and members of the LGBTIQA+ community. While the faces of this “enemy” may morph and change, Ted Geoghegan is clear to show how the blind bigotry and prejudice have not. While the single setting may throw some off, it’s something that really allowed the actors and director to fully explore the subtext of the scenario and their characters to illustrate that everyone, at least in their mind, is fighting for what they believe is right.
It’s hard to really do something new with a trope as well worn as the séance gone awry. But Ted Geoghegan does not only that, but also throws in a few great subtext such as all these soldiers are haunted by their own ghosts, along with the ones they’ve summoned. The performances here by an ensemble of older actors really makes me pine for more genre films just like this, since they offer up a bit more nuance and character than the typical teens with a ouija board who you’re secretly hoping bite it. It’s the kind of experience and grit that allows an actor to really use the dialog and script to show or pervey something a less experienced actor might not even see on the page. Because of that depth it felt like every character here was easily worthy of their own film. I really dug Brooklyn 45, it’s an atmospheric spine tingling tale that’s as focused on the scares as it is churning out well crafted pot boiler.