Review: Ted Geoghegan delivers more well-made pulp with clever ghost story ‘Brooklyn 45’

Jeremy Holm, left, Kristina Klebe, Ezra Buzzington, Ron E. Rains and Anne Ramsay in the movie "Brooklyn 45."
Jeremy Holm, left, Kristina Klebe, Ezra Buzzington, Ron E. Rains and Anne Ramsay in the movie “Brooklyn 45.”
(Robert Patrick Stern / Shudder)

‘Brooklyn 45’

An inspired combination of drawing-room mystery and ghost story, the modestly scaled, smartly staged “Brooklyn 45” is set in a single location on a single night: a homey Park Slope brownstone on Dec. 27, 1945. But writer-director Ted Geoghegan packs in plenty of plot and gives an excellent cast some flavorful dialogue and rich characters to play; his crew supports them with a meticulously dressed set, a colorful visual palette, and some sparse but well-deployed visual effects. Most of what makes “Brooklyn 45” so entertaining doesn’t cost a lot of money. It just takes talent, and diligence.

The horror legend Larry Fessenden plays Lt. Col. Clive “Hock” Hockstatter, who invites some old friends and Army buddies to his home a month after his wife Susan died. He’s joined by the ruthless military interrogator Marla Sheridan (Anne Ramsay) and her Pentagon pencil-pusher husband Bob (Ron E. Rains), along with the gung-ho old soldier Maj. Paul DiFranco (Ezra Buzzington) and the publicly disgraced Maj. Archibald Stanton (Jeremy Holm). Hock asks the party to join him in a seance, which gets interrupted by a shocking act of violence and the surprise arrival of a German immigrant neighbor, Hildy (Kristina Klebe), who may be a Nazi spy.

Geoghegan structures “Brooklyn 45” a lot like a stage play, where the characters reveal secrets about themselves over the course of one spooky evening — and where every 15 minutes the plot takes another surprising turn. Each actor gets a turn in the spotlight, and each makes the most of it, delivering little speeches about their characters’ wartime activities that subtly change the way the other people in the apartment see them. This movie is mostly an exercise in retro pulp, but it’s a well-made one with some sharper points lurking beneath the old-fashioned style. At its prickliest, this is a film about the ways social niceties can mask deep distrust and dark pasts — which still have a way of surfacing eventually.


‘Brooklyn 45.’ Not rated. 1 hour, 32 minutes. Available on Shudder/AMC+

Eva Longoria’s feature directing debut has a talented cast in an enjoyable crowd-pleaser based on Richard Montañez’s claims of creating Flamin’ Hot Cheetos.

June 9, 2023

‘Unidentified Objects’

Two standout leading performances mitigate against some overwrought kookiness in “Unidentified Objects,” an indie dramedy tinged with science fiction. Matthew August Jeffers plays Peter, a self-described “college-educated homosexual dwarf,” who spent the pandemic doing what he was inclined to do anyway: sitting alone in his New York apartment, reading Chekhov. Sarah Hay plays Peter’s neighbor Winona, who refers to herself as “a human who does sex work.” Sarah offers to help pay Peter’s overdue bills if he can help her get to Canada, where she expects to be reunited with the extraterrestrials who abducted her as a teenager.

The trip involves Peter borrowing (or more accurately stealing) a car from an absent friend. On the way, the two encounter smugglers, cosplayers, violent goons and aliens — some of them real, and some merely figments of Peter’s constantly racing imagination. Director Juan Felipe Zuleta and screenwriter Leland Frankel get too cutesy with this blending of reality and fantasy, but they and their cast are spot on with their depiction of Peter and Winona’s shared desperation. They both have a lot riding on this journey, which they’ve come to believe is their last chance to wring some meaning out of lives other people see as pitiable. Jeffers and Hay have a strong chemistry, and they make Peter and Winona’s vivacity and pain feel equally real, even when the movie around them is shading toward the phony.

‘Unidentified Objects.’ Not rated. 1 hour, 40 minutes. Available on VOD; also screens theatrically June 14, Alamo Drafthouse Cinema, downtown Los Angeles


In Hong Sung-eun’s eerie drama “Aloners,” Gong Seung-yeon plays Jina, a seemingly serene young woman who lives by herself and avoids all but the most superficial human contact — a quality that makes her well-suited to her job at a credit card company’s customer service call center. When Jina’s boss asks her to train the 20-year-old Sujin (Jung Da-eun), the newcomer’s tendency to become emotionally involved with the customers flummoxes Jina, who prefers to be blankly polite and end calls quickly.


“Aloners” is part character sketch and part cautionary tale, with a fairly predictable point to make about people needing people — even when our neighbors, co-workers, customers and parents are annoyingly demanding. But while the message is pat, the way it’s presented is poignant, thanks to an arresting lead performance from Gong, who manages a tricky balance of chilliness and charm. Hong’s use of repetitive detail conveys how Jina’s life can be equal parts comforting and confining. It’s easy for Jina to eat at the same noodle shops and to watch the same streaming channels day after day — and to cut off any calls, texts or conversations that might disrupt that routine. But as she eventually learns: This may be a good way to survive, but it’s a terrible way to live.

‘Aloners.’ Not rated. 1 hour, 30 minutes. Available on VOD

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