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Brooklyn 45 (2023)

Brooklyn 45 - A spoiler-free review of a masterful, historical chamber piece

Trigger Warning(s) for the film: Suicide mentions, racial and gender slurs

Brooklyn 45 just landed on Shudder and has been highly regarded on social media since it came out on June 9th. This supernatural thriller was written and directed by Ted Geoghegan. Geoghegan is known for co-writing Demonium (2001) and The Berlin File (2013). He started directing in 2015 with the critically acclaimed film; We Are Still Here (2015).

The story follows a group of military veterans who gather together just after Christmas at the end of World War II. Colonel Clive Hockstatter (Larry Fessenden) is currently grieving the loss of his wife. He has invited his friends Marla (Anne Ramsey), her husband Bob (Ron E. Rains), Major Archie Stanton (Jeremy Holm), and Major Paul DiFranco (Ezra Buzzington) over to his home for the evening. A masterful chamber piece follows about the humanities surrounding war and the ghosts we carry with us.

Clive is still reeling from coming home to find that his wife has taken her own life. He explains to the group that he started going to church soon after to find comfort, but the preacher told him that his Susie would be damned to hell for what she did. This causes Clive to pull a complete 180 and find other ways to grieve Susie's passing. Finally, he tells his friends that he wants them to join him in a seance. At first, they refuse, but eventually, they agree to aid their dear friend in coping with his loss.

After Clive locks them in the parlor, they perform the seance and actually end up connecting with who they believe is Susie. The lights are flickering, the radio is acting out, and we see a disembodied arm come out of the mirror on the table. This entity even talks, which leads both Marla and Paul to identify the voice as Susies. Clive ends up breaking the seance before finishing it, and any horror fan knows that is a huge mistake.

We go from this supernatural thriller to a courtroom thriller once the final player of the film is added to the mix. Once the seance ends, Clive completes suicide in front of his friends. While they are trying to process what just happened, a woman falls from inside the closet and we learn this woman is originally from Germany. Susie was convinced this woman is a Nazi spy - and it was only after her death that Clive started to believe Susie as well.

While our team of friends tries to figure out if this Hildegard Baumann (Kristina Klebe) is actually who she claims to be - we further unravel each person's ‘ghosts’ that they carry with them from the war. Each person carries with them the responsibilities that were placed on them and the horrific things they carried out in the name of their country.

This film does such a great job of highlighting the intricacies of how everyone experiences a war. It's not only the soldiers on the front lines who carry ghosts with them. This group of people is also grappling with the fact that the war has come to an end. Marla is a prime example - the group of men clearly respects her as being phenomenal in her job as an interrogator. However, what will she do with these skills now that the war is over? One of the lines repeated throughout the film by all the characters is an excellent call-and-response dialogue. Someone would say, “The war is over,” and someone else would answer, “Says who.” This piece of dialogue highlights how no one knows how to move on from that.

Coming from a military family and seeing these pieces firsthand really struck a chord with me, as films with heavy military themes do. I love the attention to detail that each character put into their character dynamics, and I believe that was partly due to Ted Geoghegan working on this film with his late father. Geoghegan’s father was a military man before an accident took that career from him. His father then went on to study US history, and they worked on the screenplay together. Sadly, Geoghegan's father passed and he never got to see the film. Still, I imagine his father helped bring these characters into multidimensional entities and their corresponding actors brought them to life.

Overall, I think this film was very thought-provoking and made the audience consider the question, ‘What makes someone a bad person?’ These people were doing what they thought was best for the country they believed in. But how far is each person willing to take their beliefs? This film is a must-watch if you are into historical cinema, but it will also leave you with an ending that will stick with you. While Brooklyn 45 doesn't hand you jump scares and an obvious villain, it does slowly creep into your mind and have you guessing what the right motives are when faced with something that questions your beliefs.

8 out of 10 Screams 😱

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