by Hope Madden
A timely deconstruction of patriotism as convenient excuse for violence – xenophobia, homophobia, you name it – filmmaker Ted Geoghegan’s latest genre film costumes a contemporary message in WWII army greens.
Brooklyn 45 spends a single, specific evening with a handful of war buddies. It is Christmas Eve. The war has just ended. Lt. Col. Clive “Hock” Hockstatter (Larry Fessenden) probably shouldn’t be alone for Christmas. He’s been lost in grief since his wife Suzy took her own life on Thanksgiving, raving about Nazi spies in the building. So, pals Mjr. Archibald Stanton (Jeremy Holm, The Ranger), Mjr. Paul DiFranco (Ezra Buzzington), master interrogator Marla Sheridan (Anne Ramsay) and her husband, Pentagon pencil pusher Bob (Ron E. Rains) head to Hock’s Brooklyn apartment to make merry.
What they don’t expect is a séance, but to their surprise, that’s what they get. It doesn’t go well. Lights flicker, candles light themselves, there’s ectoplasm, phantasmic voices – and an unsettling knocking in the closet.
Geoghegan’s crafted a highly theatrical, even stagey, production. Almost exclusively set on a single space, as the full cast is trapped in Hock’s dining room for nearly the film’s full 92-minute run time, the movie could easily have taken shape as a stage play. Or, given the spot-on era the filmmaker creates, it could have succeeded as a radio play. The theatricality works, even when the dialog is occasionally overwritten or expected to deliver too much exposition.
The success comes in equal parts from fine performances and Goeghegan’s nimble thematic work. By pressing these people – war heroes of the “greatest generation” – hard enough, he not only depicts an all-too-familiar slippery slope to self-justified violence, but chips away at a whitewashed American history.
Ramsay is particularly impressive, her performance layered and authentic despite the movie’s theatricality. Kristina Klebe – a surprise guest – is a bit hamstrung with the film’s most stilted dialog, but she and Ramsay share an unsettling chemistry that heightens tension.
Goeghegan delivers some jump scares and some gore, but what his film finds scariest is what lies in a beating human heart.