The Scary of Sixty-First is a film you have probably never heard of unless you are chronically online, something I sadly am. It’s the directorial debut Dasha Nekrasova, who also wrote and co-stars in the film. You may have seen her in Succession or Mr. Robot—or her legendary “Sailor Socialism” viral moment where she owned an Infowars interviewer at SXSW.
In addition, Nekrasova is co-host of the podcast Red Scare, which is aimed at millennials who are generally on the left but sick of identity politics being considered more important than class, “woke consumerism, and the excesses of #MeToo… all perfectly good and valid things that should be critiqued. They have, however, also dabbled with “the new right,” with podcast guests including Alex Jones and Steve Bannon. Variety alleged recently that they are getting funding from the cryptofascist Peter Thiel, something Nekrasova and her co-host Anna Khachiyan have denied. At the end of the day, it seems like a lot of their provocation is just shitposting to own the liberal elite.
Nekrasova’s The Scary of Sixty-First is an extension of that shitposting on social media. It’s a Polanski-infused “horror” film about Jeffrey Epstein. Millennial women Noelle (Madeline Quinn) and Addie (Betsey Brown) move into an apartment on the Upper East Side of New York City. Soon after the move, a mysterious young woman only credited as The Girl (Nekrasova) reveals to them that the apartment was a shag-pad for notorious sex trafficker Jeffrey Epstein, and they both quickly fall down a rabbit hole of satanic paedophile conspiracies.
Sadly, the film is a disaster. It feels very much like a student film, although a handsome one at times due to the 16mm cinematography from Hunter Zimny. The screenplay from Nekrasova and Quinn leaves a lot to be desired, it’s needlessly provocative and lurches forward without any sense of narrative. You get the sense that the two girls were really high when they wrote this, and they probably were. I’m all down for wrapping a conspiratorial horror film around Epstein (after all, the guy didn’t kill himself, you’re an idiot if you think he did.)
Dasha Nekrasova has a natural screen presence, and is probably the best thing about the film—of course, she has all the best lines. There is a reason she has been in proper films and TV shows, but it seems she was written out of the upcoming season of Succession, maybe her shitposting got too much for HBO. The Pizzagate conspiracy is mentioned in the dialogue at one point, and The Scary of Sixty-First probably would make a very good double bill with the film The Pizzagate Massacre. That film tackles much of the same subject matter, and while not entirely successful, is a lot bolder and delivers more of the genre thrills you wish this film could have done. At times, it just feels like a bad episode of Girls.
The film is distributed digitally through Shudder, so if you are curious I would highly recommend watching it first through there. The Blu-Ray from Fractured Visions is around £20 from them directly, or £25 on Amazon, so getting a free trial for Shudder or subscribing for a month is probably the way to go to first watch the film. However, if you are a fan of the film, the release is packed to the gills with commentary from Nekrasova and Quinn, commentary from film historians and authors Alexandra Heller-Nicholas and Josh Nels, along with a Beyond Fest 2021 Q&A with Nekrasova. She is also interviewed on the disc along with her co-stars Betsey Brown and Mark H. Rapaport and the trailer finishes off the extras. The release comes in an evocative slipcase, and inside you get a hefty booklet with new essays by Caitlyn Downs, Zoé Rose Smith and Janine Pipe, and finally six art cards.