Brooklyn 45 (IFFBoston 2023)

As WWII interrogator Marla Sheridan (Anne Ramsay, "Bombshell") makes her way to support old friend Lt. Col. Clive Hockstatter (Larry Fessenden, "Depraved"), recently bereaved and now living alone, her husband Bob (Ron E. Rains) sees another approaching friend, Archie Stanton (Jeremy Holm, TV's 'House of Cards'), and calls him a war criminal.  Marla objects, but the truth of this matter as well as many other secrets will spill out this evening in “Brooklyn 45.”

Laura's Review: B

Writer/director Ted Geoghegan ("We Are Still Here," "Mohawk") retreats from location shoots for a single set locked room mystery that keeps us guessing to the very end.  This is an old-fashioned throwback, a wartime mystery paired with a séance, yet filtered through a modern sensibility which keeps its themes current.  Indie horror stalwart Larry Fessenden anchors the cast, his performance becoming even more entertaining when you least expect it.

No sooner have Archie and the Sheridans entered the ornately appointed room, than tensions mount among the assembled, the Nazi interrogator known as ‘Marla the Merciless’s choice of an apparently meek Pentagon clerk noted with open disdain for the man.  In full uniform, Major Paul DiFranco (Ezra Buzzington, 2006's "The Hills Have Eyes") begins referring to Archie as a faggot, an indignant Paul stepping in only to learn this is long-standing, affectionate ribbing.  Paul informs the others that their host is on his second bottle, Clive berating himself for ridiculing his wife Susan’s (Lucy Carapetyan) belief that a neighbor (Kristina Klebe, 2007's "Halloween") was a Nazi spy.  He later found Susan with her wrists cut, his guilt now devouring him.

Clive may be downing whiskey like water, but he is quite clear as he surprises his friends with his newfound belief in the supernatural, begging them to participate in a séance.  Right after they've reluctantly joined hands, their host asking for a sign from the beyond, when loud banging emits from a closet door, startling everyone.  But nothing is as it first appears in Geoghegan’s tale, an examination of courage and lack thereof and the ramifications of blindly following orders and the wartime tactic of dehumanizing the enemy.  By the time the film ends, you will have a completely different opinion of every single character within it.

“Brooklyn 45” is a character-driven ghost story with numerous chuckles to be had as it twists and turns.  While stylistically quite different with a modest production design embracing the period with broad strokes, it harkens back to such Twilight Zone episodes as ‘The Monsters Are Due on Maple Street’ with its themes of mistrust and paranoia.

Robin's Review: B

The war is over and five childhood friends gather together one evening to support their grieving old pal, Clive (Larry Fessenden). They are all survivors and participants of that war and prejudice and hate still burns deeply in some toward their former Nazi enemy in “Brooklyn 45.”

Writer-director Ted Geoghegan creates a one act play about the friends, all former military we will find out, who gather for Clive’s sake - wife Susan committed suicide just six weeks ago. The friends – Marla (Anne Ramsay) and her husband Bob (Ron E. Rains), Archie (Jeremy Holm) and Paul (Ezra Buzzington) – are there for their friend.

Clive, though, has a hidden agenda and springs his plan on his guests: hold a séance and contact Susan on the other side. Reluctantly, they all agree, lower the lights and begin. When the grieving husband asks for a sign, a loud banging begins on a closet door. This is where things get strange very fast when a woman, bound and gagged, tumbles from the closet.

This is the moment when the lines are drawn after the woman, a German immigrant named Hildegard (Kristina Klebe), is accused of being a Nazi – and, by extension, a danger to the group. There is the hard line faction calling for her execution, the middle of the roaders who need to know more and the more forgiving liberals who cast doubt on the accusation.

The fun in watching the proceedings are the players who represent a microcosm of our current polarized society. I think I side with the liberals in this morality play, as I do with our present society. It is funny, as we age, we are “supposed” to become more conservative, but not me. So, the diversity of the characters’ POVs generated a lot of food for thought on good versus evil. But, what is evil?

"Brooklyn 45" is showing as part of IFFBoston 2023 - click here for the schedule.  It will begin streaming on Shudder on 6/9/23.