As a horror fan, one must get accustomed to films that are unique, bizarre, and sometimes downright strange. To call the latest Shudder Exclusive The Scary of Sixty-First bizarre would be the understatement of the century.
Ever since launching Halloween Year-Round in 2019, I’ve reviewed my share of strange and bad movies, but none have made me question my own logic and sanity quite like this movie. So apologies in advance if what follows is more of a rant than a review.
Apartment with a Dark Secret
The first 15-20 minutes play out like a typical low budget indie horror film. We see two college students, Addie (Betsey Brown) and Noelle (Madeline Quinn, who also co-wrote the script) getting a new apartment in NYC together. It’s shot in a grainy handheld style that reminds one of House of the Devil. To the movie’s credit, it is creatively shot and the camera moves in interesting ways to keep the audience engaged.
Things between Addie and Noelle seem strained as Noelle feels more and more isolated. One day while she’s home alone, a woman claiming to be a realtor (Dasha Nekrosova, co-writer and director of the movie). She quickly confesses that the real reason she’s there is because the apartment used to be owned by Jeffrey Epstein (yeah, the movie goes there), and that she’s investigating his criminal network.
They start investigating and discover the apartment is haunted and Addie begins to become possessed by the ghost of what seems to be one of the underage girls that Epstein sexually assaulted and murdered. And if you think that this is a very grim and serious topic for a horror movie to explore, you’re absolutely right. But if you think this movie approaches its subject matter with any sense of subtlety, tact, or discretion, you’re absolutely wrong!
WTF is This Movie Doing?
It’s genuinely difficult to tell if this movie is trying to be taken seriously or if it’s deliberately going for parody. It comes off like a high school play written by the students who chose a very serious subject to tackle and do so with the utmost self-importance.
On the one hand, it wants to explore the absolutely heinous crimes of Jeffrey Epstein, and do so in a way that is cathartic and profound. But its absolutely goofy dialogue and borderline slapstick performances really send mixed messages.
I’m genuinely curious what the ultimate goal of this movie was because no matter what it is, it definitely failed at it. It’s not even that it’s a distasteful film that bit off more than it can chew. It’s a distasteful film that features incredibly awkward dialogue, performances that feel like they’re straight out of a parody movie.
No Seriously, WTF?!
As Addie goes further down her supernatural rabbit hole, she exhibits a strange sexual energy that becomes all the more uncomfortable when you remember she’s supposed to be possessed by an underage sexual assault victim. Obviously, film is art and not all art is pleasant. There are certainly movies that explore the darker side of life but it really comes down to execution.
And rather than focus on the absolute tragic reality of this subject matter, the movie oddly sexualies Addie in this state and features a scene that feels like something out of softcore porn. Which again is disturbing when you remember the movie’s subject matter. So I genuinely ask, what in the hell was the movie trying to portray?
If it was trying to do a grim and serious analysis of a real life tragedy, it failed. It was just trying to be a goofy but fun horror movie, it failed by choosing such a subject matter. And if it was just trying to be competently written and acted, it kinda failed at that too. It’s not quite on the level of Tommy Wiseu and The Room, but it’s not far off.
What did you think of The Scary of Sixty-First? What are some of your favorite WTF horror movies? Let us know in the comments!