REVIEW: The Scary of Sixty-First [2021]

Rating: 5 out of 10.
  • Rating: NR | Runtime: 81 minutes
    Release Date: December 3rd, 2021 (USA)
    Studio: Utopia / Shudder
    Director(s): Dasha Nekrasova
    Writer(s): Dasha Nekrasova & Madeline Quinn

Murdered. Raped … Sacrificed.

Noelle (Madeline Quinn) and Addie (Betsey Brown) really want the reduced-price townhouse on the Upper East Side of Manhattan they visit. We’re told the former never held a “real” job and the latter barely scrapes by as an aspiring actress despite her father having enough wealth to cut a check if she’s willing to ask. Their credit shouldn’t allow them to see it let alone buy it, yet they’re enjoying a warm beer celebration amidst dusty furniture they’re told is theirs to keep a few hours later. It’s weird to find the second bedroom locked off from the rest of the apartment, a mirror above the bed, and a moldy turkey in the fridge, but this is New York. Real estate deals this good don’t come along often.

The question is thus: why did this one fall in their lap? Blood stains on the mattress in Noelle’s room could simply mean someone was murdered here, but what about Addie’s restless first sleep conjuring a vivid nightmare akin to bound wrist paralysis? Before they can contact the realtor or conduct a Google search, the answer knocks on their door in the form of a nameless woman (Dasha Nekrasova) desperate to look around on behalf of her very delicate research. You see, this townhouse was apparently once owned by Jeffrey Epstein. It was probably one of his many pedophilia sex dens and thus the setting of God knows what horrors. Noelle is fascinated by the possibility and joins the stranger’s crusade. Addie feels abandoned. Perhaps she’s already lost.

This is about when my ability to keep pace with what’s happening in The Scary of Sixty-First (written by Nekrasova and Quinn with the former directing) ends. What starts as a haunted house romp bolstered by a name-dropped Epstein and Ghislaine Maxwell replacing demonic possession with conspiracy theory-laced comedy (Addie is ostensibly taken over by the sexually ravenous spirit of a thirteen-year-old in love with Prince Andrew) soon devolves into a bona fide QANON Reddit forum brought to life. We’re supposed to laugh—especially in moments like the one where Nekrasova cuts away after her character’s earnest conversation about Epstein abruptly shifts into Pizzagate. This is a manifestation of our world if the chaotic nonsense your parents spread on Facebook were true. Pentagrams, Anglophilia, and Tarot cards corrupt.

You may know Nekrasova as the interviewee who went viral when InfoWars put her on-camera to talk about Bernie Sanders. Unwilling to cede any ground to her interviewer, the conversation ultimately goes so far off-the-rails that she can’t help but incredulously declare how anyone watching Alex Jones’ channel unironically must have “worms in [their] brains.” The topic of her directorial debut being those very worms shouldn’t therefore be surprising. She and Quinn have decided to treat that insanity with the utmost severity by bringing its flights of fancy to their logical conclusions. If Epstein was attempting to find secret sci-fi frequencies and ways to live forever, perhaps his suicide wasn’t a cover for murder but a means to hide his success. Maybe he’s still alive and insatiably horny.

As such, anyone who gets too close will either fall victim to the sex cult that’s obviously being run by the Clintons or be discredited and thus marked insane for daring to believe the “truth.” Addie is unfortunately corrupted so early that she can’t help but order a ton of British accoutrement for an orgy-of-one when not running around the city with a hand down her pants to finger the metal initials “JE” that are affixed to a stone building five blocks away. Nekrasova’s character is thus positioned to watch this young woman’s fall with a mixture of interest and disgust. Will she eventually try to help save Addie? Or will she use her to corroborate her baseless claims of Satanic carnage? And whose side will Noelle choose?

I wish the result proved as entertaining as the subject’s potential, but I must sadly deliver the disappointing news that it doesn’t. I’m certain there will be many who disagree, though. The Scary of Sixty-First will find an audience firmly affixed to its wavelength who will champion its boldly irreverent style as a cult classic and I won’t be able to deny them. Because we’re still in the middle of the GQP era, however, I find it difficult to laugh without a keen awareness of the damage these people are creating. I see artists choosing to make light of what’s become a widespread collective delusion bordering on mental illness and find myself overwhelmed by frustration considering the target of their satire is neither funny nor sad. It’s dangerous.

That doesn’t come through here. Nekrasova and company have gone full speed into farce. I applaud them for it and envy their ability because I’d love to not have to worry about what new Hell these conspiracy theorists will deliver post-Insurrection. I wish the effect of those “worms-for-brains” was so far in the rearview that I could simply revel in the old school horror aesthetic (the grainy picture and throwback score are phenomenal) while breathing a sigh of relief that we got through it unscathed. But we didn’t. Not by a long shot. And the more we dismiss these people as anecdotes for a chuckle, the greater their threat becomes. That’s what’s scary. Not Addie rubbing oranges on her genitals, but believers killing in the name of idiocy.

© Kinematics / Carnegie Hill Entertainment

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