Another Man’s War
When a snowy New York evening over cocktails shifts into a paranormal nightmare for five World War II veterans, an impromptu seance traps them inside a paranormal cage created by the very nightmares of their recently deceased best friend. This Shudder original film unravels into a character study about the horrors of war and the consequences of our actions. Directed by Ted Geoghegan, produced by Shudder and a number of other studios, Brooklyn 45 was released on the AMC Networks streaming service Shudder on June 9, 2023 and can be streamed now.
The War is Over, Says Who?
The plot of Brooklyn 45 is a tight, full, and fast-paced march supported by a fleshed-out cast of characters and backed up by great practical effects. This bloody historical drama does not pull its punches at all when Lt. Col. Clive “Hock” Hockstatter (Larry Fessenden) invites his veteran friends over for a cozy evening over cocktails, then uses a seance to open a door to the world of the dead.
Needless to say, this is a great horror film for those who enjoy dark paranormal historical dramas. It’s a bit to chew through because of its structure. It takes place in real time, unfolding as the audience watches. A similar approach to the format that The Hateful Eight uses, it’s structured like a play.
A freezing New York apartment is the setting of the Shudder original film. For these five childhood friends, this snowy night changes into a metaphorical witch hunt fueled by fear, suspicion, and duty. The structure of the film allows its characters to breathe while the audience gets to know them (maybe a little too well). Deeply rooted dialogue expounds on the tragedies of war and the impact it has on the lives of the people involved.
A fast-paced script with barbed wire covering the dialogue moves from monologue to monologue, giving each of its cast members a moment to flourish. Brooklyn 45 makes use of the harsh realities of World War II. Some of the things these characters are guilty of are out of this world, including war crimes that in all reality could have happened.
The duties of Marla (Anne Ramsey), Mjr. Archibald Stanton (Jeremy Holm), and Mjr. Paul DiFranco (Ezra Buzzington) as veterans of World War II echo out during their evening in Hell. Director Ted Geoghegan paces the excitement properly with blood and scares that deliver the horror.
Brooklyn 45 could have used a few more ghosts and a few more scares. Regardless, the independent film delivers with a deep message that reaches well past the setting in which it takes place. Xenophobia, guilt, action, and survival are all addressed here, and Geoghegan delivers an experience that feels very original.
With an ensemble of powerful performances from each cast member, Brooklyn 45 uses the stage play format to voice its extremely thought-out characters. While these characters are completely fictional, the visages they represent call back to 20th century motifs of masculinity and duty, but also guilt; Anne Ramsey as Marla, a former interrogator for the US, Archie, a closeted war hero, Paul, the classic persona of a military man without a war, and Lt. Col. Clive Hockstatter, the tormented host. Although some of the delivery is a bit punchy and unnatural, it would be hard to blame the actor more than the script in this case. The Hateful Eight also experienced this issue, where some of the line deliveries were awkward and felt forced.
Anne Ramsey (Planet of the Apes 2001 and The Taking of Deborah Logan) gives a strong performance as Marla Sheridan. Her performance gives subtle hints to deeper layers of her character. She gives every bit of screen time her all and it shows. Jeremy Holm (House of Cards and Mr. Robot) delivers a complex Mjr. Archibald “Archie” Stanton, a war hero who lives with the guilt of a split-second decision made to protect his fellow soldiers. Ezra Buzzington (Fight Club and The Artist) as Mjr. Paul DiFranco, the archetypal military man with a lingering blood lust for Nazis. Larry Fessenden delivers a truly tormented performance as Lt. Col. Clive “Hock” Hockstatter, a man scarred by the war, unable to live with the things he’s done to survive it.
Don’t Judge a Book by Its Cover
Given this film is part of Shudder’s large library of horror films, it is worth checking out because it does something different. Many horror movies today are so focused on frightening the audience that they lose the story. Brooklyn 45 attempts to scare the audience while also addressing the harsh reality of war and survival. Its context and setting of 1940s Brooklyn are strengthened by the very fact that this movie’s message is not limited to the times it takes place in. Although lacking in ghosts, the true horror lies in the relationships between the characters. The audience watches them slowly unravel as the truths of the past come bubbling up to the surface in this Shudder original film. This film offers a more thought provoking experience, one that varies from most other horror films.
Brooklyn 45 (2023) Official Trailer