‘Brooklyn 45’ Ending, Explained: Who Was The Butcher Of Berlin? Did Marla Leave The Haunted Room?


Shudder Original horror film Brooklyn 45 is a unique and interesting play with the genre, as it bases itself on the very real terrors of WWII. The plot follows Marla and her husband, Bob, visiting the woman’s best friends from her time in the US Army, one of whom suggests having a séance, before the whole matter goes horribly wrong. Along with the timeline of 1945, the visuals and set design have also been presented accordingly, making it quite period-appropriate without being too serious. Although the film does falter in execution as it progresses, Brooklyn 45 is a fairly enjoyable watch that also successfully drives home its point in the end.

Spoilers Alert

‘Brooklyn 45’ Plot Summary: What Is The Film About?

Brooklyn 45 begins on the evening of December 27, 1945, in front of a private house in Brooklyn, New York. Marla Sheridan arrives at the house along with her husband, Bob, and meets with one of Marla’s best friends, Archibald Stanton. As they all enter the house, which belongs to Clive Hockstatter, it is revealed that Marla, Archie, and Clive were close friends during their time in the US Army, as they had all served their country during WWII. Another friend of theirs, Paul DiFranco, is also present at the scene, and after some warm welcomes among them, the real reason for their visit is also revealed. Clive had recently lost his beloved wife Susan only a few weeks ago, and the man was still shaken over the woman’s untimely death. He was seemingly lost in life and could not get over the memory of his wife, who had also been his lover for many years before. Even on this evening, as the other friends sit down for drinks, Clive seems quite unsettled, almost as if he is waiting for the right moment to tell the others something.

That moment does arrive after some time, though, when Clive suddenly expresses the real reason behind inviting all his old friends. After losing his wife, the man started to seek peace in religion and regularly attended church but was livid at the priest’s statement that Susan was now in Hell because of the way she had died. Completely losing faith in the church, Clive then turned his focus to clairvoyance, mediums, and spirit guides. At present, on this December evening, Clive wants his friends to participate in a séance in order to help him communicate with his dead wife, Susan, for he had to apologize to her for not believing in her claims.

How Had Susan Hockstatter Actually Died?

The exact time during which Brooklyn 45 is set is in December of 1945, which was many months after WWII had officially ended and Adolf Hitler’s death. But Clive’s wife, Susan, much like most of the other characters in the film, was not ready to believe that the war was actually over. The woman was evidently developing some mental health conditions, understandably because of the panic-stricken life that most had to live at the time, but Susan’s mentality made her hateful towards others. Believing that the Nazis were still planning some invasion of the USA and that they were closing in from all sides, Susan started to suspect that her German neighbors were actually Nazi spies. The racist woman started harassing the German family and also tried her best to make others believe her suspicions. She had informed the authorities of her suspicion numerous times, too, wanting them to come and arrest the family, but nothing like this happened. Even her husband, Clive, did not believe that their neighbors were Nazi spies, and he instead wanted to calm the woman down. But as the hatred, fear, and frustration at not being able to convince others kept growing inside Susan, she could no longer live on and slit her wrist on the morning of Thanksgiving Day, committing suicide.

It was after Susan’s death that Clive started to believe in her suspicions, and the film does not shy away from making it feel like Clive is now delusional like his wife, only out of his guilt for not being able to save her. It is for this reason that he now convinces his army friends to participate in the séance so that he can speak with Susan once more and apologize to her. Although the friends, particularly Paul, take a long time to be convinced, they ultimately begin the procedure with some personal items of Susan and a big mirror placed on the table in front of them. Much to everyone’s horror and disbelief, Clive does get possessed by some spirit and then throws up a lump of some foamy substance that looks like ectoplasm. From this lump emerges a shadowy hand, as Susan’s voice is heard all across the room, and a certain locked door keeps banging loudly. The radio inside the room also starts playing and stops randomly by itself, along with candles being lit and blown out by themselves.

All the hauntings suddenly stop, though, when Clive cannot take the misery of hearing his wife’s voice any longer and pulls his hand away, breaking the séance. He is evidently even more disturbed at this point in time, and this soon turns into a horribly drastic step when the man shoots himself dead right on top of the table in front of his friends. But despite Clive’s death, the fact that he left the séance without sending the spirit away means that the door to the spirit world is still open, and this is seemingly clear from the banging of the door, which keeps on happening even now.

Who Is Hildegard, And How Was She Inside Clive’s House?

The mystery behind the banging door does soon become clear when the door, which is to a closet inside the room, opens, and a woman falls out of it. The woman has her hands and legs tied, with a cloth also tied around her mouth, but she herself now unties all the bindings and then immediately wants to leave the room and the house. As she then reveals, her name is Hildegard Baumann, and she is the German neighbor whom Susan had suspected to be an enemy spy. As Clive had started to believe in this, he had used sedatives in a glass of whisky that he had offered to Hildegard, and then he had kidnapped the woman and kept her locked up inside his closet for almost an entire day. Although Marla is more sympathetic towards the woman, Archie and Paul do not trust her at all and hold her at gunpoint. Hildegard now claims that she and her family actually moved to the USA in 1931, much before WWII, and that they were wholehearted Americans who wanted to have a better life than in Germany. Her father-in-law had started a grocery store many years ago, and Hildegard was just an ordinary worker there, but Susan always believed her to be a spy because of the woman’s racist mentality.

While Archie eventually turns against the idea, Paul remains fixated on the fact that he must kill the German woman because she is most likely an enemy of America. Right before dying, and earlier in the evening also, Clive had told Paul that he needed his close friend to do something for him and his dead wife, and Paul was now sure that this favor was to kill Hildegard. Paul believes that it was all Clive’s plan, as the man had always been queasy about killing, and so instead wanted the veteran army man to execute her for him. Paul’s character has been created to resemble the most xenophobic army major, who even later goes on a rant saying that he does not want Hildegard or her family, or the likes of them, in his beloved country because America simply does not belong to people of other national origins. The man recounted an event from some time ago when he killed an Italian living in the USA because he had said that he loved America. The irony is that Paul DiFranco himself is of Italian origin, as is evident from his surname, but Paul remains fixed on his plan of shooting Hildegard dead till the very end.

As the man refuses to let anyone leave the room (for he has the key) before he kills Hildegard, Marla also conducts an interrogation of the German woman to find out whether she is actually a Nazi spy. During her service in the war, Marla was a master interrogator who had gathered crucial intel from enemy soldiers, and so Paul and Archie believed in her credibility. Marla remains sympathetic towards Hildegard, and her action of piercing a long needle into the woman’s finger is only part of her interrogation process. This test ultimately proves that Hildegard was not a spy, at least according to Marla, but Paul refuses to believe this. Later on in Brooklyn 45, the ghost of Susan Hockstatter also appears and claims that it was Hildegard who had broken into her house and slit her wrists, but there is actually no real proof of this. The film does not really reveal whether Hildegard had some secrets or a dark side of her own, just like all the other characters, but the most possible explanation is that Susan’s ghost was still as racist as her living self, and it was only blaming Hildegard because she was a German.

Who Was The Butcher Of Berlin?

From the very start of the reunion party in Brooklyn 45, Archibald Stanton had been talking about an ongoing case that he was having to fight, in which it was being claimed that the army major had gone rogue. The entire matter is revealed later on when Archie starts to express a feeling of disdain for his good friend and lieutenant colonel, Clive, who now lies dead. While the war was still on, Archie’s troop, headed by Clive, had been in a difficult situation in Berlin when they had to face heavy fire from the Nazis and had to find a different route of escape. As part of this route, a building had to be blown apart, and Clive ordered Archie to do it. When the soldier followed the command and bombed the place, he realized that the building was actually a German kindergarten shelter with 56 children still inside. All the children were immediately killed, and as Archie was shocked by this, Clive assured him that he would not face any consequences and that he would protect him if there was any trouble.

Clive had partly stuck to his word, as it was reported that the soldier who had bombed the kindergarten had been killed shortly after in a gunfight. This had saved Archie from any war crime trial, as he was the butcher of Berlin, but after the war had ended, word got out about his real identity. At present, there is an investigation going on against the man, and what angers Archie even more, is that Clive knew that the building was a kindergarten. The lieutenant major had knowingly got German children killed, possibly out of his hatred for every German, but had ensured that Archie was the one to do it so that he could never get in any trouble.

‘Brooklyn 45’ Ending Explained – Did Marla And Her Friends Finally Leave The Haunted Room?

As Brooklyn 45 reaches its final part, it becomes evident that the spirits of both Susan and Clive were stopping Marla, Bob, Paul, Archie, and Hildegard from leaving the room as long as Hildegard was not killed. Consistent with his character, Paul steps up one last time to shoot the German woman, but Bob now gets hold of the gun. Being a desk worker in the Pentagon who had never faced any direct action in the war, Bob was constantly looked down upon by Paul, and now the man also tries to shame Bob. Finally angered by this, Bob shoots Paul dead without any hesitation, but then the man also kills Hildegard. Every character in the film had a secret, negative side to them—Marla had been a ruthless interrogator; Clive and Paul had a blind hatred for all Germans; Archie had bombed 56 children to death. Even Hildegard could possibly have had some involvement in the war, and it could be that she had actually been a spy for the Nazis in the past, which is probably why she keeps stating that the Nazi party is now no more. In the case of Bob, his dark side seems to have come out only now, as he readily kills the woman because it is the only means of escape for him. Bob realized that he and the others could not escape the haunted room without Hildegard dying, so he killed the woman without any hesitation.

At the end of Brooklyn 45, Marla, Bob, and Archie do manage to leave the room and the house, but their relationships have been marred forever. Marla cannot fathom the fact that her loving and kind husband killed Hildegard, and she is definitely not pleased to see this side of Bob. Archie decides that he will go to the authorities and confess his acts during the war, which will surely get him jailed for life. The central idea of Brooklyn 45 is that the characters, who had all been involved in the war in some way or another, cannot get past the horrors of the past, and the ghosts of their actions return to haunt them and finally tear their lives and relationships apart.

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Sourya Sur Roy
Sourya Sur Roy
Sourya keeps an avid interest in all sorts of films, history, sports, videogames and everything related to New Media. Holding a Master of Arts degree in Film Studies, he is currently working as a teacher of Film Studies at a private school and also remotely as a Research Assistant and Translator on a postdoctoral project at UdK Berlin.

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