By Sascha Krieger
The Scary of Sixty-First (Encounters / United States / Director: Dasha Nekrasova)
Actor Dasha Nekrasova’s directorial debut is a wild ride. The story of two friends moving into an apartment on New York City’s Upper East Side and discovering the place’s dark history is a feast for fans of the horror genre. Mixing influences from, among others, occult horror, psychological thriller and the Italian „Giallo“ subgenre of the early 1970s, The Scary of Sixty-First is full of the various influences‘ esthetics, the restless camera, the distorted images, the unsettling soundtracks, the grainy fuzziness, a descent from clean day to the blood-red night, a rich palette of instruments straight from horror’s toolbox. The story dives right into politics, feminism, crimes against women and children. We learn that notorious Jeffrey Epstein was the apartment’s previous owner. As a young woman investigating Epstein’s death joins, mysterious things happen, signs are discovered, nightmares reign, conflicts arise, demonic possession and murder follow. The film is entirely over the top as the genre demands but it is efficient in marrying its conventions with the suppressive circle of power that is patriarchy. Constantly, notions just established are deconstructed, expectations thwarted, the film plays with conspiracy theories until they almost make sense leading to an ending as bitter as cynical, as sarcastically ironic as disturbing, as satisfying for genre fans ands it is unsettling for everyone else.