Supernatural terror and deep-seated personal revelations come to light in the tonally unbalanced, but no less interesting Brooklyn 45.
Written and directed by Ted Geoghegan, Brooklyn 45 gradually unravels over the course of its 90 minutes as it centres around a group of battle-hardened friends and their overdue rendezvous in a Brooklyn brownstone. Set between the lost days of Christmas and New Year’s Eve, the dark shadow of WWII looms over them – mostly – but literal war stories and jovial reminiscing come to a halt when the host for the evening’s “delights”, Lieutenant Colonel Clive “Hock” Hockstatter (Larry Fessenden), reveals he has called them together for the intention of communicating with his recently deceased wife through the act of a séance.
With his wife’s suicide only have taken place 6 weeks prior, his grief is still fresh, and having essentially been told his dearly departed’s soul has been damned to hell, he’s turned his beliefs elsewhere. After trading barbs and concerned notes, it isn’t long before the group (consisting of Ron E. Rains, Ezra Buzzington, Jeremy Holm, and Anne Ramsay) are sitting down to conduct the séance. The film’s uncomfortable mentality soon shifts as a ghostly presence comes through, but it’s not just suggestions of his wife’s afterlife that take shape, but the reality of Clive having kidnapped his German neighbour (Kristina Klebe), believing she may have had something to do with his wife’s death.
Utilising its single location and limited budget – the film’s 1945 setting almost giving way to its special effect lacing – Brooklyn 45 is surprisingly more a conversational drama about the inability to find peace and how war can make good people do terrible things. There’s interesting, philosophical discussions to be had with such thematics throughout, but offsetting such with supernatural inclinations means there’s a slight in-balance regarding the genre audiences it may attempt to attract.
The film does occasionally suffer from repeating itself throughout, and there’s horrific possibilities that feel under-explored, but a strong, talented cast and the individual hauntings of each character from a psychological point of view keep Brooklyn 45 an entertaining viewing; even if it doesn’t quite entirely deliver on its potential.
THREE STARS (OUT OF FIVE)
Brooklyn 45 is screening as part of this year’s SXSW Film Festival coverage, running between March 10th and 18th, 2023, in Austin, Texas. For more information head to the official SXSW website.