The Scary of Sixty-First (2021)

Director: Dasha Nekrasova

Running Time: 81 Minutes

Certification: 18

Starring: Dasha Nekrasova, Betsey Brown, Madeline Quinn, Mark Rapaport

While browsing apartments on Manhattan's Upper East Side, friends Addie (Betsey Brown) and Noelle (Madeline Quinn) cannot believe their luck upon discovering an affordable place. They move into the place packed with items left by the previous tenant, while discovering scratch marks on the wall and questionable stains on a mattress. Arriving at their door is a conspiracy theorist (Dasha Nekrasova) who shares the apartments dark secret - it was owned by Jeffrey Epstein.

Co-written with star Quinn, Nekrasova makes her directorial debut with a giallo-inspired tale of possession and conspiracy theories. The cinematography and score give this the feeling of a stylish throwback, wrapped around a pitch-black sense of humour that constantly tries shocking the audience. One such element involves Addie losing her grip on reality, regressing into a child while becoming obsessed with Epstein and Prince Andrew. The embodiment of a victim while in such a horrific place is an audacious idea, although the execution and the performance falls short of the mark. Ones mileage may vary, yet it did not work for this reviewer.

As this is occurring, the conspiracy theorist weaves herself into Noelle's life and shares theories about Epstein. While venturing further down the rabbit hole, they take solace in believing they're "awake" to the truth of the world. As the characters speak such self-important nonsense which they fully believe, one wonders if this is intended as a pointed satire of the conspiracy theorists who believe they've stumbled onto deep government secrets courtesy of scrolling through Reddit. Despite that impression, one wonders by the end whether the filmmakers are in on that joke.

What Nekrasova has crafted is a provocative attempt at true-crime cases, focused on one in particular. It's a tale where sex and death are interlinked, as witnessed when a public sex act is intercut with a recreation of apparent suicide. The end result is unfortunately neither as clever or shocking as the creators believe it is, instead feeling nonsensical.

The Scary of Sixty-First is available on limited edition Blu-Ray 3rd October from Fractured Visions. The Blu-Ray can be ordered directly from their website.