Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Cropsey (2009)

I love a good documentary and Cropsey is very intelligent and creepy true crime-story that will haunt you for a long time afterwards. Everything began with directors Joshua Zeman and Barbara Brancaccio going back to their childhood home, Staten Island, to investigate the legend of Cropsey - a mentally disturbed killer haunting the old ruins of a closed down mental asylum. You heard of Cropsey before, in movies like The Burning for example. Madman was based on the same legend that's been told everywhere around the US, by children for children. In the Staten Island-case a man, Andre Rand, was arrested and convicted for one of the murders - the only one where they found a body. But is he just a madman, a scapegoat? Or is he the real killer playing with everybody's minds?

There's something creepy with forests. Especially forests that has big abandoned buildings in them with signs of what was there before. Old wheelchairs, beds, clothes, furniture laying everywhere. In this case it's Willowbrook State School that haunts the memories of everyone. Involved in several scandals, which the biggest one was in 1972 and probably is some of the most disturbing stuff I've ever seen. Geraldo Rivera, then a new hot journalist, took his crew there unannounced and filmed the terrible state the place was in. Mentally and physically sick children laying, sitting everywhere - naked, in their own shit, in the darkness, screaming, crying or just laughing. This is some really fucked up footage. Really fucked up. You won't believe it until you see it. And this was in 1972, but it feels like a concentration camp in WW2 Germany or Poland.

In this environment Andre Rand worked, and maybe was this one of the things that triggered him the crimes that he later performed - or did he? The film makers, Joshua and Barbara interviews his old friends and neighbors, polices, the families of the victims... and not everyone is convinced that he's guilty. But those don't believe of his innocence thinks he was a necrophiliac, a satanist, involved in cults and had a sect of homeless and mentally ill people following him in the forests and ruins of Staten Island. The typical stories evolved from many years of urban legends.

It's easy to see how the legend of Cropsey on Staten Island could have emerged. With the spooky ruins, the old hospitals and schools, homes for the poor and all these children gone missing over the years. A safe little community buried in it's own dark secrets. The film is never boring and it always stays on fact - or what people believe is fact. A threat through the whole production is the directors communication by letters with Andre Rand, and how the letters is growing more and more weird. We follow the woman who still today walks around in the area trying to find the bodies of the missing children. We meet the retired cops believing in his guilt and the man that claims that the police asked him to house Rand just so they could monitor him better.

This is not just a story about an urban legend. Or a true crime. This is also a story about Staten Island and the burden this place always will bear.

The official homepage with more info and how to purchase the movie.


Adam said...

Hej Fred,

Tackar för en bra filmsajt!

Jag håller på att landera en ny tjänst som har med film att göra och jag tror att du kan vara intresserad av den.

Ta kontakt med mig på adam.carlson@linqers.com om du vill veta mer. Kolla även in Linqers.com

Väl mött


toppit83 said...

Tack för tipset! Denna måste jag absolut se.

Phantom of Pulp said...

Great review, Fred, and I'm eager to see this.

That building in the still is amazing.

Mr_v said...

Pallar inte att skriva på engelska, är för kass...
Men stort tack för tipset! Det här låter som en helt fantiastisk rulle, ska införskaffas bums. Faktum är att musklicken som jag ämnar göra direkt efter att den här kommentaren skickats ska säkra mig ett ex!