The Scary of Sixty-First is a horror movie centered around the crimes of Jeffrey Epstein. It is a strange premise for a strange film. Noelle (co-writer Madeline Quinn) and Addie (Betsey Brown) are two friends who have found an affordable apartment in Manhattan’s Upper East Side. When they learn of its connection to Epstein, both become obsessed in two very different ways.
A movie with a premise this off center needs to really lean into its topic for it to work at any level. The Scary of Sixty-First does so almost to its detriment. The Epstein case is not just mentioned for cheap laughs or easy shock value. It is such an important part of the plot that those not somewhat familiar with the case may find themselves a little lost. It is a risky move that does not always pay off.
Those who can keep up with the more sensationalized aspects may still have some problems following. The tone is all over the place as it alternates between tongue in cheek comedy, erotic horror, and twisted character study. The Scary of Sixty-First takes on a little too much at times, but it remains an interesting watch even when it is not firing on all cylinders.
The camerawork really stands out. The Scary of Sixty-First has an almost retro look that makes it seem like it is out of another decade. New York somehow manages to look intimate while keeping its cluttered and busy feel. The many voyeuristic and titillating shots keep with the film’s subject. The camera does a good job of spying in on the lives of Noelle and the person she meets.
The story itself is wild and frenzied. The cast is a small one and the major events remain contained among them, but it still can be difficult to keep track of everything. Sometimes, this seems like it was intentionally done to keep the audience off kilter. The plot is all over the place as the characters of The Scary of Sixty-First. But there are also moments that are just downright confusing.
More often than not, The Scary of Sixty-First is not negatively impacted. The characters are a whole other story. In particular, Noelle is extremely unlikable. She is a horrible friend who seems to have stuck around Addie just to use her. The only thing consistent about her is her grating sarcasm. It does not take long to get irritated by her.
On the flip side, is Addie’s decision to remain close enough to Noelle to get a place with her. Addie has nothing nice to say about her while Noelle makes it clear Addie is an end to a mean. It is easy to ask how the two have managed to remain friends. The Scary of Sixty-First does a great job of explaining their friendship with some dialogue that gives insight into Addie.
Ultimately, The Scary of Sixty-First is not a movie that can just be described as “good” or “bad”. It is not so much about liking it as it is appreciating what director Dasha Nekrasova has put together. It is brutally funny, subtly sexy, and unlike anything else this year. It can be difficult to understand, but it is worth seeing.
The Scary of Sixty-First comes to theaters and digital platforms December 24
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