Maybe Shudder hasn’t been quite as prolific for platforming new releases in 2023 as in past years. But it’s quality, not quantity, that matters. To date, Huesera: The Bone Woman, Kids vs. Aliens, Influencer, and Attachment have all found their way onto Shudder. Not surprisingly, some of these movies will make their way into ‘Best of’ conversations at the end of the year. Last week indie filmmaker Ted Geoghegan’s (Mohawk, We Are Still Here) latest effort – a WWII period piece – debuted on the horror streaming platform. Like other Shudder release, Brooklyn 45 has earned quite a bit of praise from critics.
The war is over and as WWII veterans return home they struggle to fit back into their old lives. One night in a small Brooklyn neighbourhood, five friends and colleagues gather at a friend’s flat to support him following his wife’s tragic suicide. When he encourages his friends to join him in a séance to communicate with his dead wife, they’re initially reluctant. But when they finally agree the group awakens a supernatural presence – and ghosts from their own pasts – that threaten not only their friendship but their lives.
Brooklyn 45 Makes the Most Out of Its Single Setting and Limited Budget
Single-setting movies are a tough assignment to pull off. And Brooklyn 45, which sets its action entirely in one small setting, feels very much like a chamber play. Writer and director Ted Geoghegan – who wrote the screenplay with his late father, a WWII veteran – sets a deliberate pace to the proceedings. For its first act, Brooklyn 45 introduces us to our five main characters – all of whom arrive at the Brooklyn flat with their own personal ghosts from WWII. And Geoghegan’s focus for the first 20 minutes or so is to introduce these characters and subtly weave in their background stories. Personal and interpersonal conflict are carefully laid out in the opening scenes. As a result, Brooklyn 45 sets a very deliberate pace that may lose some audiences.
Writer and director Ted Geoghegan – who wrote the screenplay with his late father, a WWII veteran – sets a deliberate pace to the proceedings.
Though it’s a methodical pace, the early scenes are critical to the suspense and tension that eventually follows. Not surprisingly, the séance goes poorly and soon a ghostly sounds are emanating from the old radio. Expect a shocking development or two that shockingly kick off the thriller’s second act. From that point onward, Brooklyn 45 becomes an increasingly suspenseful thriller where the stakes gain more weight. Once you’re invested in the characters and their troubled pasts, the single-setting and limited action will recede into the background. Much of the horror focuses on the pasts of these characters rather than literal horror. Geoghegan circumvents any concerns about limited budgets by keeping the horror elements lean and simple.
Brooklyn 45 Benefits From Strong Performances Across the Board
Ultimately, Brooklyn 45 benefits from a carefully constructed focus on its characters and the figurative ghosts haunting them. In spite of its more methodical pace, Geoghegan manages to set the stakes – and highlight each character’s personal ghosts – in a very efficient manner. Even if you find the first act to be a bit sluggish, Brooklyn 45 ensures those slower moments count as it ratchets up the tension bit by bit. The central mystery driving the story is a simple one, but very effective and one that should engross anyone who’s committed to the thriller. While there’s not much need for effects, what’s put on the screen works quite well.
…Brooklyn 45 ensures those slower moments count as it ratchets up the tension bit by bit.
For the single-setting to really work, Brooklyn 45 relies heavily on the performances. And all of the performances are strong. Veteran horror character actor Larry Fessenden (Jakob’s Wife, Offseason) turns in a restrain, melancholy performance that anchors the thriller. As an openly gay war veteran Jeremy Holm (The Ranger) perfectly convey his character’s internal conflict – it’s his story that really anchors the drama. Yet Anne Ramsay’s disarming portrayal of a former WWII interrogator shocks particularly in the third act. Ramsay’s performance highlights how sad and burdened these characters are in Geoghegan’s supernatural thriller. Kristina Klebe (Rob Zombie’s Halloween), Ezra Buzzington (The Hills Have Eyes), and Ron E. Rains are equally impressive in their roles.
Brooklyn 45 Finds a Tense Mystery Amidst Its Slow Burn
Though Brooklyn 45 takes a bit to warm up, it’s well worth the slow burn. Once Geoghegan has fleshed out his characters and set the stakes, this period piece thriller becomes almost unbearably tense. Both the story and performances earn your investment in how the mystery will inevitably play out. And the figurative ghosts are just as compelling as the literal ghosts. At no point does Brooklyn 45 suffer from its single setting. On the contrary, it’s one of Shudder’s more compelling releases of 2023 that should stick with audiences long after the credits finish rolling.