Period horror usually just goes for an old world, and often gothic, setting. That’s all well and good, but it’s a repetitive notion that robs the genre of some real variety. It’s too rare that we see a unique period depicted, but along comes Brooklyn 45 with a hell of a setting. Here, we’re watching something horrific occur in the aftermath of the end of World War II. If that’s not a fresh part of the past for horror then I don’t know what is.
Brooklyn 45, in a strange way, almost feels like it’s from a bygone era. If this had been unearthed and discovered, as opposed to a new release, I wouldn’t have been shocked. Apart from a little extra gore, the film is downright classical. It all contributes to a movie that marches to the beat of its own independent cinema drummer, but with the confidence to take you along for the ride.
The year is 1945. The day is Friday, December 27th. Military veterans Clive Hockstatter (Larry Fessenden), Marla Sheridan (Anne Ramsay), Bob Sheridan (Ron E. Rains), Archibald Stanton (Jeremy Holm), and Paul DiFranco (Ezra Buzzington), have gathered in the parlor of Hockstatter’s Brooklyn brownstone home. They’ve been close friends since childhood, but this isn’t a happy social call. Tonight, they’ve come together to support Hockstatter during a tragic moment in his life. What began casually and earnestly soon devolves into something much different.
As the cocktails, flow, Hockstatter turns darker and darker, before convincing his friends to engage with him in an impromptu séance. All are skeptical, but eventually go along for the experiment, hoping it will give him some piece. Instead, something is visiting them, dredging up the ghosts of their past misdeeds in the war. Why this is happening, as well as what it has to do with Hockstatter’s neighbor Hildegard Baumann (Kristina Klebe), I’ll leave for you to discover.
The cast leans into the dramatic nature of the roles, developing good chemistry and never looking down on the horror of it all. It’s a talky affair, so if anyone had, it would have sunk the flick. That’s not the case, however, with Ezra Buzzington, Larry Fessenden, Jeremy Holm, Kristina Klebe, Ron E. Rains, and Anne Ramsay delivering fine work. Fessenden especially is given something much different to do than he’s normally, with vivid results. Holm and Ramsay also really dig deep with the material. The small cast also includes Lucy Carapetyan.
Filmmaker Ted Geoghegan trusts his audience to engage with the dialogue, rewarding them with bits of gore along the way. Now, is the plot especially surprising, even if it’s rather twisty? No, not really. Is it compelling all the same? For sure. Geoghegan’s direction focuses on the actors at play, and so does the writing, so it’s the concept and performances that guide you through. With an idea that would have fit the stage, he keeps things tight, though with enough little touches to make you glad it lives on celluloid.
Brooklyn 45 is small and somewhat limited in scope, but it’s very successful in achieving its modest goals. The type of small indie horror film that it desires to be? Boy does it live out that dream. So, as long as you know what you’re getting into with this movie, you should find it a fairly satisfying cinematic experience.