Shudder’s recent original presentation, Brooklyn 45 (Ted Geoghegan, 2023), is both a reflection on war and a lament for the irreparable losses incurred in wars in terms of human morality.
One night best of friends and U.S. military veterans come together for supporting one of them. However, few drinks and a séance down, the foundation of their friendship begins faltering and, by the end, it is shown to be collapsing.
Through séance, spirits are invoked and these spirits, more than being supernatural entities, turn out to be repressed traumas, guilt, and xenophobic ideals that are best kept behind. The haunting from the past are never really in the past but sear through the immediate present.
It is the December of 1945 in Brooklyn, New York. Marla Sheridan (Anne Ramsay) arrives with her husband Bob Sheridan (Ron E. Rains) at a Brooklyn brownstone apartment. They are joined by Marla’s dear friend, Archibald Stanton (Jeremy Holm). However, Bob is not very happy to see him for he believes Archie is a war criminal. Nonetheless, Marla has her faith in her friend and they embrace. They are interrupted by the apartment owner and their friend, Clive Hockstatter (Larry Fessenden). Clive refers to Marla as the woman who “tortured more secrets outta the Krauts than any woman in US History”. Clive invites them in where they meet another friend, Paul DiFranco (Ezra Buzzington). We come to know that the friendship of Marla, Archie, Paul, and Clive goes back to their days in the US Army. Marla had been the interrogator, Archie and Paul had been majors, and Clive served as the lieutenant colonel. Bob is the only civilian in the room aghast at the war.
Their purpose for visiting Clive becomes clear. Clive has recently lost his wife and has not been keeping well. After exchanging greetings and cocktails, of course, Clive reveals how he is coping with the passing away of his dead wife. He confesses that he has taken a particular interest in séance and to communicate with his dead wife, he needs the help of his friends. Clive opens up to them about the incident that led to her death. Susie, his wife, was certain that their neighbors–of German origin–were actually spies for the Nazi party. However, nobody bought into her belief, including her husband and the police. With the situation going more paranoid for her, Susie decided to end her life. Clive is filled with remorse for not believing Susie and asks his friends to help him relieve himself from this guilt.
Although everyone is hesitant and discounts the credibility of the séance, they join hands anyway. Clive begins the process with Susan’s blood-stained handkerchief and locket.
They enter into the séance and Clive invokes the spirits. Soon, the door of the closet starts banging. When Paul attempts to leave the séance to check for the door, Clive holds him back saying that breaking the circle would lead to the door to the other side remaining open. The spirits make themselves more apparent by lighting the candles in the room. Clive throws up a disgusting white substance on the table and Susie’s spirit starts communicating through it. Here, the circle breaks when Paul and Clive leave hands.
While they are discussing whether the spirit was indeed Susie, Clive asks Paul that he has to fulfill a wish of Clive and Susie before leaving the room. With this, Clive ends his life. The friends are shocked and try to get out of the room but find that they have been locked inside the room by Clive. At this moment, a German woman, all tied up and gagged, announces her presence by tumbling out of the closet. The people in the room, except Marla and Bob, are suspicious of her and want to get rid of her at once by killing her.
Who is the German Woman in the closet?
The German woman says her name is Hildegard Baumann (Kristina Klebe). She had moved to New York from Erlangen much before the commencement of the war and has been living in the neighborhood ever since with her family. She also reveals that Susie grew paranoid about them being Nazi spies after the Japanese surrendered in September. She labels Susie as a lunatic who could not part ways with the reality of the war being over. When Paul and Archie are determined to kill her, Hildy asserts herself as an American.
Hildy, as she was known to her friends, reveals that the night before Clive trapped her by apologizing for the treatment meted out to her and, in turn, offering her some whiskey. Oblivious to his real intentions, Hildy accepted Clive’s olive branch happily. Turns out, the whiskey was spiked so that Clive could hold her hostage and wait for her friends to arrive who could finally finish her off.
Why does Bob call Archie a ‘war criminal’?
The reason for Bob calling Archie a ‘war criminal’ at the beginning is revealed soon when Archie changes his mind about killing Hildy and asks Paul to let her go. This results in a verbal spat between the two and, amidst the spat, an agitated Paul calls Archie ‘Baby Butcher’. Paul’s revelation leaves everyone present in the room stunned. Paul finally unveils a long-kept secret– when Archie faced trials for killing German children in the war, Paul falsely testified to protect his friend. He is indeed the war criminal, infamous as The Berlin Butcher, who killed children at a kindergarten centre while at the battlefront. Archie breaks down and says that it was actually Clive, his colonel at the time, who ordered him to save his people and promised to take responsibility should the situation turn against Archie. He just followed his orders.
Why can’t the group leave the room?
Marla, Bob, Archie, Paul, and Hildy, the only alive occupants of the room, are stuck as the spirit of Susie and Clive do not want them to leave. Paul reveals that Clive had called him before anyone else to help him with killing Hildy and refuses to give the keys until she is killed. He threatens that if, indeed, he opens the door, he would also, in turn, expose Archie to the world outside.
Finally, Marla steps in. Since Paul would not back off until it is made clear whether or not Hildy is a Nazi, she decides to implement her infamous torture method of interrogation on Hildy. Hildy breaks down due to the torture but does not back out from any of the claims she made earlier. Marla is certain that Hildy is not a Nazi spy and convinces Paul to believe the same too. Paul proceeds to turn the keys on the lock to open the door but the key slips into the hole and disappears.
Clive starts speaking at this point and demands Hildy be killed. They try breaking out of the room to escape but that yields nothing. Paul reveals that the only way to escape this hell is to be done with the Kraut, Hildy.
Brooklyn 45 (2023) Movie Ending Explained:
How does the group break out of the room?
Marla says that since, during the previous séance, the circle was broken, the door to the other side is still open. To send back the spirits and close the door, they need to perform the séance for the final time. Susie’s spirit appears and accuses Hildy of killing her. The group understands that Clive wants them to kill Hildy for him, something which he has been doing all his life.
Archie refuses to abide by Clive’s wishes and breaks the circle to go out. However, when he opens the door, he is taken back to the traumatic site– the German kindergarten with burnt bodies of children scattered around. Paul, who has been waiting for far too long, grabs Susie’s neck in an attempt to throttle her to death. Bob aims a gun at Paul and Hildy is saved for the time being. Marla, Bob, and Archie try to knock some sense to Paul but he does not seem to budge from his bigoted belief. Deluded by anger, Paul says that he is ready to kill his friends if they stand in his way of taking down the Nazi. In a final attempt to convince Paul, the dead body of Clive straightens up and asks him to kill Hildy. Paul tries to cease the gun from Bob but the latter first blows the former’s fingers and then shoots him. Perhaps the wildest turn of events, when Hildy proceeds to thank Bob for saving her from Paul, he shoots her too.
Following the deaths, the door of the room opens and Archie, Marla, and Bob finally get out of the room. Bob says he had to kill both Paul and Hildy to get out of the room. Archie and Bob promise to take responsibility for what they have done. They part ways. Brooklyn 45 ends with Bob saying, “The war’s over”, to which Marla replies, “Says who?”.
- External Link of Brooklyn 45 to Rotten Tomatoes
- Genre: History, Drama, Horror, Mystery & thriller
- Original Language: English
- Director: Ted Geoghegan
- Writer: Ted Geoghegan
- Release Date (Streaming):
- Distributor: Shudder