High-density areas like New York and Los Angeles have long been the darling settings for horror films. They provide more opportunity for carnage, nationally known landmarks and epic drone footage of really tall buildings. Yet, when instead of setting your B-list horror movie in some familiar Manhattan nabe, where the undertones can easily be worked to appear clean cut and non-controversial (money, the rat race, the long clean lines of Ikea furniture, having made it/struggling to make it etc.), you instead set it in Bushwick, a Brooklyn neighborhood best known of recent for its rapid gentrification, sky-rocketing rent rates and replacement of longtime ethnic businesses with artisanal eateries, the area starts to loom bigger than the plot itself.
In a trailer released last Friday for action thriller flick Bushwick, starring Dave Bautista and Brittany Snow, America is on the brink of another civil war in, “a disconcerting alternate universe in which the Brooklyn neighborhood of Bushwick is under military invasion,” according to a Variety review of the film. The reason Bushwick is relevant as the setting of the film is because, according to Variety (and with as little of a spoiler as possible) the area’s “ethno-diversity”.
One of the most deserving emotions which still remains nameless is that feeling when a New Yorker spots an anachronism, mistake, or otherwise incorrect reference in regards to NYC (i.e. someone talking on the phone while in a subway tunnel, a character misnaming a neighborhood, a set subway station in a place one doesn’t actually exist) and becomes simultaneously incensed, proud and very loud in detailing the problem. This trailer provokes that feeling so strongly, I initially thought it was a comedy. It’s not that there’s anything visibly inaccurate, but the soundtrack is so intense, and the setting so banal, it’s quite funny, despite the violence.
“Why are you in Bushwick?” a man asks menacingly, before telling Snow, “they’ve declared martial law.” The violence which ensues looks more like a weird dramatization of the 1977 blackout than a horrifying military takeover and watching Orthodox Jews run down alleys avoiding aerial gunfire is simply bizarre. The most relatable part of the trailer is easily when it is announced over the subway PA that “All service is suspended” before the ominous music starts.
So far the movie, which premiered at Sundance back in January, has a 67 percent on Rotten Tomatoes and a lot of bad reviews, including A.A. Dowd’s: “The Purge sequels do this kind of thing with a lot less fuss.” For all but the more committed thriller buffs, this seems like a film not worth your time. Except, it’s a wartime action film decidedly set in Bushwick, which is a premise hilarious enough that clearly everyone should see it. Then, you could also see this other movie called Bushwick and make it a double feature.