Two roommates’ lives are upended after finding out that their new Manhattan apartment harbors a dark secret.

Editing: Sophie Corra
Eli Keszler

Cast: Madeline Quinn, Betset Brown, Stephen Gurewitz, Dasha Nekrasova, Mark H. Rapaport, Aaron Dalla Villa

Directors: Dasha Nekrasova
Writers: Dash Nekrasova, Madeline Quinn
Cinematography: Hunter Zimny

There’s a sub-genre of horror growing out of Twitter and other online places. Built upon the stories others tell, or in the case of The Scary of Sixty-First, the conspiracy rabbit holes you can find yourself in if you’re not too careful. Googling Jeffrey Epstein and spiralling into a reading and video frenzy of all the theories surrounding his death and the many uncovered secrets of his life is possible and a centre point for this film. 

Friends Noelle (Madeline Quinn) and Addie (Betsey Brown) move into a Manhattan apartment with an ultra-low rent. What’s the problem? They assume it’s just the lack of a new coat of paint, but it could be the weird mirrors on the roof, the scratches on the walls, or even the bloodsoaked sheets they find after a few nights living there. That’s when the two girls get a visit from ‘The Girl’ (Dasha Nekrasova), who claims that the apartment has a secret dark history as one of Jeffrey Epstein’s sex trafficking homes. “I’m not like normal people; I’m obsessed with political struggle,” says Nekrasova’s character in the film’s most memorable line of dialogue and an example of the film’s deadpan humour.

Although the film starts with the New York flavour of Girls, the movie quickly begins to feel a lot more like Eyes Wide Shut as secret conspiracies and potential cult discussions stir between Noelle and The Girl, who strike up a friendship. Meanwhile, Addie, who has a rather boring boyfriend in Greg (Mark H. Rapaport), appears to become possessed by one of the young girls killed in the house. It’s here as we see two girls diving into Youtube conspiracy video spirals and the other masturbating in front of buildings owned by Epstein that The Scary of Sixty-First becomes interesting. However, it could be a bit much for some people. There’s another sexually explicit scene with Noelle’s character that could be pushing the envelope too far for some people, but it’s an integral scene for the film and feels essential for 2022. 

The original score by Eli Keszler makes this film feel bigger than its budget. The primarily synth sounds paired with haunting percussions and strings elevate all parts of the film. Especially since this film was obviously made on a shoestring budget and the cinematography leaves a lot to be desired. 

The Scary of Sixty-First falls apart in its disappointing ending. Sure, things get bloody, but it seems to be simply for the sake of getting bloody. What happens doesn’t synchronise with everything else that had been happening; it’s a disappointing payoff. Maybe the point is that there is no payoff, but if that’s the idea, it doesn’t work for me. 

I can see many people hating this film as the content aims to piss some people off. Somehow this pairing of deeply serious Jeffrey Epstein material works with the deadpan dark humour delivery of the cast and under the direction of Nekrasova, who’s well aware of what audience she’s targeting, and how to make this material herself and Quinn wrote work. It’s hard to call this film brave as it feels like an elaborate shitpost, but again, the film does feel like it was born from the depths of the internet, so why not: The Scary of Sixty-First is a great shitpost.