brooklyn 45 | ted geoghegan | anne ramsay | ron e. rains | jeremy holm | ghost | haunted | haunting | seance | period piece | world war ii | cosmic horror | drama | history | united states | larry fessenden | ezra buzzington | kristina klebe | lucy carapetyan | ritual
Film: Brooklyn 45
Director: Ted Geoghegan
Writer: Ted Geoghegan
Starring: Anne Ramsay, Ron E. Rains and Jeremy Holm
This was a movie that I saw streaming on Shudder. There were a couple podcasts that I listened to that covered it, so I went ahead and moved this up my list of ones to check out for my end of year list. I also saw that this featured Larry Fessenden, who I respect as an independent figure in the genre. I didn't recognize Anne Ramsay's name, but when this started up, I knew who she was. This was also written and directed by Ted Geoghegan, who I'm a fan of. I’ve also now given it a second watch as I shore up my year-end list.
Synopsis: five military veterans, best friends since childhood, gather to support their troubled host and the metaphoric ghosts of their past become all-too literal.
We start this off with our guests arriving. World War II has ended and we are just after Christmas. Marla Sheridan (Ramsay) shows up with her husband, Bob (Ron E. Rains). What is interesting here is that Marla was one of the best interrogators for the army. She now works for the Pentagon and I take it that Bob got her in there. Mjr. Archibald Stanton (Jeremy Holm) shows up now as well. Marla and he went back a long time. Bob isn't a fan. Archie is also up for war crimes for something that happened in Germany.
They go inside to the place owned by Lt. Col. Clive Hockstatter (Fessenden). He is there with Mjr. Paul DiFranco (Ezra Buzzington). They've been drinking since two and we are in the evening now. Clive isn't doing well since his wife, Susan (Lucy Carapetyan), killed herself. She seemed to have lost touch with reality and thinking that their German neighbors were spies. They're all there to help him through this difficult time.
Taking advantage of this, Clive wants to do a seance. His friends are against the idea, thinking nothing good will come of it. Clive is a Christian, but his faith has been shaken from what Susan did and something a priest told him. He believes that he can communicate with her. They start the ritual and the door to the closet shakes. It seems like something is inside. They also experience a specter that sounds like Susan. The radio also turns out, using songs to relay messages. Clive tries to touch the ghost, breaking the circle. He stated in the beginning that the door needed to be closed to the other side, which they didn't do.
Not everything is supernatural. Hildegard Baumann (Kristina Klebe) joins the party. Clive also makes a life-changing decision. Archie and Marla don't know who to believe. Paul sides with his friend. This group reveals dark secrets to each other and must decide what to do with Hilde. There also could be supernatural elements at play.
That is where I'll leave my recap and introduction to the characters. Where I want to start is that this could be a stage play if they wanted. We use only two locations. The first is the street outside for the beginning and the ending. The rest of this takes place in the apartment. If you have a compelling group of actors for the stage, that will add another layer to it as well. To then get what we have here, that is the focal point for this as well. We have supernatural elements as the undercurrent. Are these ghosts controlling the events of what we're seeing or are our group of characters sinking into madness?
The performances are where I want to then start to delve. The first thing I love is that Marla is this great interrogator. Being that she is a woman in 1945, you wouldn't expect it. I'm not sure if this is based in fact. In the framework of the story, I can roll with it. I think Ramsay commands this role. I also love something that happens late with Hilde. Marla has the best intentions and she is doing what she can for everyone to survive. It is also interesting that her husband, Bob, is the weaker one in the relationship. He didn't serve, but he works in the Pentagon. Marla's male friends look down on him. His character plays an interesting role with the climax/resolution though.
I then want to shift over to the male group of friends. The theme here is that during war, good people will do bad things. The deeper we get into the night, the darker things in their past that get revealed. Archie is up on charges for war crimes that involved children dying. Clive and Paul assure him that they'll take care of him. Clive also might have been involved with other similar things. It also seems that Paul did things that were horrific, but no one seems to know the extent. I love that this is set right after WWII. These men should be considered heroes. They have these dark things that they've done while they're vilifying the Nazis the whole time. I love blurring the lines that their hands might be dirty. Also, there’s the idea that the war hasn’t ended for these people. They’re still haunted and for at least a couple of them, they’re still fighting it. It makes it difficult to not consider Hilde as a Nazi spy, even though they were defeated.
The last bit here to go into deals with the seance scene and what results from it. I love the idea that they could be trapped in this room due to partaking. There is the idea that they've opened a door to the other side and what Clive did has left it open. This does get explored regularly enough. It makes us as a viewer question if they did communicate with the spirit world. There is also the idea that they've been drinking. Could stress as well as the alcohol be blurring the lines? I lean toward ghosts and we have a bit of cosmic horror with it.
I don't think I'm going to go into the acting as I feel that I already have. Everyone is great here in bringing their characters to life. Let me then go into the rest of filmmaking. I thought the cinematography was good. This is a period piece. The language and look of everything have an authentic feel. It also seems timeless that I slipped into which is good. They do well with the effects. It looks like they went practical with most everything they could. My guess is that things with the ghosts was done with CGI. No issues there either way. I like what they did with the sound design of Susan as well as with the radio. It communicates using songs there to convey things. That was a good touch. I did want to address something here. Originally, I had issues with the pacing. That wasn’t the case this second time around. I’m not sure if it was just my head space then or what. I was more engaged this time around.
In conclusion, this is an interesting seance film that turns into a haunting. The setting of this right after WWII is an interesting one. Despite this being a period piece, it has a timeless feel. I like the one set location where almost all of this takes place. The cast is great across the board. Ramsay being the strongest there, especially with a specific scene with Klebe who holds her own opposite. I like the blurring of good and evil of our cast. No one gets out of this clean. My only issue with the pacing wasn’t there that second time around. This was a solid movie that’s worth a watch. I'd recommend checking this out on Shudder if what I said checks boxes for you.
My Rating: 8 out of 10