Now in VOD, The fear of the sixty-first is directed by and starring Dasha Nekrosova, a multi-screenplay filmmaker, podcaster (Red scare) and actress (played Comfry in Succession Season 3), who channels his obsession with the death of pedophile sex criminal Jeffrey Epstein in this thriller. She plays a conspiracy theorist who wants to break into an apartment just occupied by a pair of mismatched roommates, claiming the place was Epstein’s “orgies lodge.” Well, I know they just moved in, but maybe it’s time to break the lease.
THE FEAR OF THE SIXTY-FIRST: STREAM IT OR SKIP IT?
The essence: Needs a lot of bleach and Lysol, the design is a bit strange, dead flowers have dropped petals on a broken piano, and there is a creepy ceiling mirror in the bedroom. They will accept it! I mean, it’s a surprisingly affordable and relatively spacious apartment on New York City’s Upper East Side, so you’ll have to make some concessions. Maybe the claw marks on the drywall that appear to be from human hands, strange tarot cards left here and there, and the rotten old hairy ham in the fridge might have scared them off, but they don’t realize that until it’s too late. . Isn’t that how it always goes?
Regardless, Noelle (Madeline Quinn) and Addie (Betsey Brown) are going to make it work. They are not exactly the perfect roommates; Noelle is direct and elusive, and Addie is a bit whiny and needy, and she has an idiotic boyfriend, Greg (Mark H. Rapaport), but they’re not exactly Felix and Oscar. They are not even unpacked before a woman who remains nameless throughout the film and is mentioned in the credits as The Girl (Nekrosova) rings her doorbell. She is investigating the crimes and the death of Epstein, of course, she does not believe that he hanged himself in prison, which led her to this apartment, where she claims that he imprisoned and abused some of his victims. The Girl glimpses a blood stain on Noelle’s mattress and immediately runs to the bathroom to vomit.
Noelle and The Girl become fast friends. They hang out, pick up speed, and fall into Epstein-related internet connection holes. The Girl asks Noelle if she has heard of Pizzagate. Noelle tells him that Abbie “has a lot of mental problems.” Meanwhile, Abbie has a crazy dream and starts acting strange. There is a scene where Noelle watches as the Girl seems to show her the joys of autoerotic asphyxia, although she may be investigating what happens when a person tries to hang themselves. And there’s a scene where Abbie wakes up in the middle of the night and walks down the street to a building with the initials “JE” in the marble and orgasms right there. “Mental problems”? Or some form of demonic possession? Who can tell?
Which movies will it remind you of ?: Scary has dirty De Palma vibes (I think maybe Paradise ghost), un toque de verboten Verhoeven (Meat + Blood, maybe even your recent Benedetta) and Argento giallo (the score shamelessly summons Goblin through Suspiria once or twice).
Performance worth watching: Shout out to Nekrosova for nearly drowning for the sake of her art!
Diálogo memorable: “She’s always been, like, in the UK ”- Noelle comments on Addie’s new and very disturbing obsession with the Royal Family
Sex and skin: A fair amount of creepy sexual disgust, with a lot of female nudity.
Our Take: Sorry, but this is a disaster. It’s easy to admire the little semblance of artistic intent that we get from Nekrosova’s taboo-breaking film, but it’s much harder to appreciate. The fear of the sixty-first as is. She delivers some pitch-black comedy moments and constantly maintains a deadpan tone, but that’s about it. His overall aesthetic is that of a no-budget indie that feels more amateur than inspired. The cinematography is uncomfortably claustrophobic and disorienting, not for, say, creating a psychedelic experience; rather, we never get a decent sense of the surroundings in the apartment, which is a linchpin, and the more the plot boils, the more the camera moves.
The script is signed, an octopus agitated with suggestion and provocation that we are trying to catch with our bare hands. Nekrosova does not shy away from bodily fluids, which some may find repulsive. The acting and dialogue are uniformly badass. Characters become indifferent curiosities rather than complex human beings. It took reading an interview with the filmmaker to understand that Addie’s lunatic behavior is not an extension of her loosely established “mental problems” – a phrase used as a kind of anti-PC joke – but the direct result of moving into the cursed apartment. . . And the third act turns into a wild, blood-soaked climax that is completely incoherent. What’s the point of all this? The Epstein pedophilia thing, the disturbing psychosexual deliberations, the random snippets of hidden fodder, the conspiracy theory musings? I have no idea.
Our calling: SKIP IT. The fear of the sixty-first it is a little elaborate thriller that seems to have something to say, but never becomes lucid and meaningful.
John Serba is a freelance writer and film critic based in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Read more of his work at johnserbaatlarge.com.