Brooklyn 45 (Blu-ray Review)

  • Reviewed by: Dennis Seuling
  • Review Date: Jun 25, 2024
  • Format: Blu-ray Disc
  • Bookmark and Share
Brooklyn 45 (Blu-ray Review)


Ted Geoghegan

Release Date(s)

2023 (June 25, 2024)


Raven Banner/Divide/Conquer/The Line Film Co. (Shudder)
  • Film/Program Grade: B+
  • Video Grade: A
  • Audio Grade: A
  • Extras Grade: B+

Brooklyn 45 (Blu-ray)

Buy it Here!


Brooklyn 45 can be called a chamber movie—a film with a small cast in a single location. It’s set immediately after World War II at a reunion of a few wartime friends that takes an unforeseen turn.

On a frigid evening in December, 1945, several former comrades in arms of Lt. Col. Clive “Hock” Hockstatter (Larry Fassenden, The Spine of Night) arrive, by invitation, at his Park Slope, Brooklyn brownstone. All of their lives have been deeply affected by their recent wartime experiences.

Marla Sheridan (Anne Ramsay, Bombshell) is a former army interrogator who was very successful, using extreme means, at extracting information from the enemy. Her husband, Bob (Ron E. Rains, Teacher), loves his wife and would rather not think about the methods she used. Maj. Archie Stanton (Jeremy Holm, Don’t Look Back) is a closeted gay man about to be indicted for war crimes who denies killing innocent civilians during a combat operation. Maj. Paul DiFranco (Ezra Buzzington, Resurrected), a medical officer, worries that his good friend Hock may be undergoing some form of mental anguish.

Hock’s in a bad place. A few weeks earlier, his wife Susan committed suicide after repeatedly trying to convince authorities that their German neighbors actually are Nazi spies waiting for an opportunity to revive pro-Nazi sentiment in America. Hock’s reason for convening this group is to have them join him in a seance to contact Susan, primarily to ask whether she’s at peace “on the other side.” Thinking this is an act of grief and desperation on the part of Hock, they agree to participate. As the seance begins, the tone of the film becomes increasingly ominous as old demons rear themselves and a fifth character unexpectedly joins the comrades.

Except for a few outdoor scenes in front of the brownstone, Brooklyn 45 uses only one set and a small number characters, giving it a stagebound feel. In fact, it could easily have been a play. A claustrophobic atmosphere develops as the characters remain in a locked room for most of the film. Far from detrimental, these limitations are integral to building tension as paranormal occurrences accompany shattering revelations from each of the characters.

Writer/director Ted Geoghegan has cast an ensemble of seasoned actors who show how war has scarred each of their characters in some way as they open up about their feelings, revive resentments, and raise accusations, all within the confines of Hock’s study. Extremely literate, the film shifts gears to introduce elements of horror that arise out of plot developments and don’t seem contrived. That’s tough to accomplish when a film starts off as a realistic drama and later veers into supernatural territory. Geoghegan succeeds in keeping us involved, wondering how this initially pleasant reunion will turn out.

Brooklyn 45 was captured digitally by director of photography Robert Patrick Stern with Red Dragon cameras and presented in the aspect ratio of 2.35:1. Contrast and clarity are very good. Details such as pictures and an American flag displayed on Hock’s wall, insignia on Maj. DiFranco’s uniform and the wrinkles on his face, wood paneling on the walls, and a gruesome special effect are well-delineated. In the beginning of the film, the standard Academy aspect ratio typical of 1940s films is used, but once the action moves into Hock’s home, the image expands to widescreen. At the beginning, black & white changes to color and at the end, color changes back to black & white. Shots are primarily medium and close-up, with only the occasional long shot. During the seance sequence, CGI is used to represent the reaching out of a spirit.

The soundtrack is English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio. English subtitles are available. Dialogue is clear and distinct. A few atmospheric sound effects, including a repeated banging noise, accompany the seance. Critical gun shots break the otherwise quiet of the room, and the sound of a locked door opening by itself sends a chill.

Bonus materials on the Region A Blu-ray release from Shudder include the following:

  • Audio Commentary with Ted Geoghegan
  • Ghosts of the Past: The Making of Brooklyn 45 (30:16)
  • The Full, Feature Length Film in Black & White

Audio Commentary – Writer/director Ted Geoghegan starts off by saying that he was “blessed” to have the actors in Brooklyn 45. The film was shot in chronological order, starting with a complex steadicam shot moving through Hock’s apartment as the guests enter. He notes that the aspect ratio changes once we’re in the house. The idea was always to force the characters to be near one another. The set was built from scratch in a building that had been a Sears-Roebuck warehouse. Geoghegan wanted to film in Brooklyn, but tax incentives in Illinois were too good to pass up. The backgrounds of the actors are provided, and the director notes that he had previously worked with some of them. He tried to maintain authenticity by including various references throughout the film. Even the many pictures on the wall reflect the time period. Geoghegan’s father, a Vietnam War veteran and quadriplegic, advised him on which aspects of the script were right and which were wrong. Various revisions of the script were made. The crew was supportive of the director’s vision. The production designer’s work, for example, was “second to none.” The actors are of a certain age because the intent was to imply that the characters were veterans of both World Wars I and II. Many of the characters have kept things from the others. Filming was emotional. Because the film was shot sequentially, it was easy for the actors to get into character. Director Geoghegan wanted some “spook show elements.” The film ends with black & white credits as an homage to movies of the 1940s. In a final note, Geoghegan says he’s proud to have made the film with his father and a talented cast.

Ghosts of the Past: The Making of Brooklyn 45 – Director Ted Geoghegan always wanted to make a film in real time about something going terribly wrong. The film is layered with a horror element and contains a lot of dialogue. The cast was like a theater company ensemble. When the camera was rolling, it was necessary to keep things light. Hock has fallen into a deep depression after the death of his wife and wants to have a seance with his friends to “reach” her. The single set made filming easier than jumping around from one location to another, and the removable walls of the set made it easy to accommodate countless camera angles. The film deals with how war changes people. Americans’ impressions of post-World War II were often sanitized. Brooklyn 45 isn’t a “cookie cutter” film in that it doesn’t follow a rigid formula. With its numerous twists and timeless themes, the film is about loyalty, doing the right thing, and moral ambiguity.

Booklet – The enclosed 28-page booklet contains behind-the-scenes information about the making of Brooklyn 45 and 9 color photos that include both production stills and shots of the set and Ted Geoghegan directing.

Brooklyn 45 establishes the friendship among the characters, which is important for us to understand as the story progresses. Though the film has elements of a classic ghost story, it’s also about the loss of innocence, the corruption of ideals, and how military people before war are not the same afterward. With no enemy to fight, they’re all lost. Geoghegan turns what’s ordinarily a handicap of movies—being stuck in one location—into an asset. There are a few places where the script could use some tightening. There’s considerably more dialogue than in a typical film, and this is because a lot of exposition must be presented for clarification, but the director would have done well to trust his actors to convey emotions with expressions, gestures, and reactions instead of always saying what they feel.

- Dennis Seuling