"Brooklyn 45 is a tight, meticulous and interesting story not about ghouls and ghosts, but about the ghosts of the past."
BY BECCA JOHNSON JUNE 15, 2023
Directed by Ted Geoghegan and starring Anne Ramsay (A League of Their Own) and Larry Fessenden (The Dead Don't Die), Brooklyn 45 is a new Shudder original horror following the gathering of five military veterans on a freezing December night. Best friends since childhood, they reunite to support a friend after his wife's death, though their evening of cocktails turns into much more when the host suggests an impromptu séance. A well acted, unique and surprisingly deep single location thriller, Brooklyn 45 struggles to find it's footing at first, but the further it's themes are explored, the more competent it becomes.
It's best to manage expectations before hitting play on this one - Brooklyn 45 is not often a horror film. With it's dialogue driven approach, group of characters that regret past actions and one-location parlour setting, it becomes much more of a thriller. Despite two pretty cool instances of body horror, the attempts at true horror are the movies weakest elements, the séance trope feeling pretty overdone by now. It works best when it's actors are bouncing off each other to deliver the intriguing script, increasing the tension as they start to turn on each other. Once it gets into that, it's magic.
The cast here are fantastic. Anne Ramsay is a standout in her role as a previous WW2 interrogator who we found out often used questionable techniques to glean the information she needed. She is clearly respected by her peers for being great at her job yet is plagued by the past, and Ramsay never struggles to make this known. Larry Fessenden, who has many horror movies under his belt come 2023, is believable as recently widowed Hock, who wants nothing more than to see his wife again after her suicide. Delivering in every spooky flick he stars in, if he keeps giving performances of this calibre, he will always be welcome in this genre. Memorable performances are also delivered by Ezra Buzzington, Jeremy Holm, Ron E. Rains and the fabulous Kristina Klebe whose character perhaps endures the toughest ride of all. They all work so well together.
It doesn't matter that Brooklyn 45 doesn't deliver what was expected, because what we do get is far more interesting than your average 'friends gather for a séance' 90-minute scarefest. What Writer/Director Geoghegan delivers is a tight, meticulous and interesting story not about ghouls and ghosts, but the ghosts of the past, which is all the more frightening. Once it hits the 45 minute mark, the script truly does take things up a notch and the exceptional dialogue sucks you in and keeps you hooked. Our group of friends argue, panic, bicker and turn on each other as the night becomes more fearful and threatening by the second. The single location works a treat, with fantastic 40's inspired set design and music creating an immersive atmosphere. It may lack typical scares, but it certainly is claustrophobic and eerie in its parlour setting. 1940's Brooklyn is also a unique time period and location when it comes to horror thrillers, and having the séance occur against this backdrop certainly provides for something new.
The first 30-40 minutes of Brooklyn 45 are lacklustre, as it struggles to find it's footing and tackles too much. As soon as the true drama kicks in, it's unstoppable. It may leave many audience members wondering why they opted to attempt to fit into the horror genre, because it works best without those elements. It's drama and thriller beats are easily strong enough to stand on their own, and Brooklyn 45 delivers some of the best dialogue of the year. It's tense, it's engaging and it's very well acted, which is essential when it comes to dialogue-driven one-location pieces of film. Don't come for the horror, come for the well-written script that explores war, grief, friendship and how the past can haunt us.