Monday, December 27, 2010

Cropsey (2009)

Fear 3/5
Gore 0/5
Entertainment 5/5
Creepiness 5/5

Combining part urban legend with real life news stories, Cropsey sees two documentary filmmakers as they explore the story behind one of Staten Island's most notorious figures. The film interweaves urban legends, true stories of a mental hospital and the horrific treatment of its patients, as well as the investigation of a homeless drifter who's the prime suspect in a series of child abductions. While the film ends with no clear resolution, it does what all good horror stories should do: leaving it up to the viewer to decide. Afterall, there is no greater horror than the one you make in your own mind.

Our film starts as various stories of a killer in the woods around Staten Island are told. A child killer who, depending on who's telling the story, has a specific way of doing his deed: axe, hook, knife, etc. In true urban legend fashion, at its heart, similarities exist with each recount. But as they are told and re-told over time, certain elements differ. But one thing is for certain: no one dares goes into the woods at night around the area.

What follows next becomes the basis for the rest of the film: in the 80's, a homeless drifter (Andre Rand) who has ties to the old, now abandoned mental hospital, is the main suspect in a series of child abductions. Painting a picture of a real-life boogeyman, the man appears to clearly be the type of person who could commit such acts, both in appearance and how he carries himself--sluggish and clearly, 'out of it.'

Things become suspect as additional histories about the island are revealed. The land is also said to be used by various Satanic cults and that our prime suspect my only be a pawn in their practices, having him bring them children for their sacrifices. Various 'experts' go on record as saying that he shouldn't be the sole focus at all. That these cults are actually planting evidence to make him look like the main perpetrator.

But things become even more clouded by the actions of Rand himself. He starts corresponding with the filmmakers while in prison. After a series of back and forth communications, he grants them an interview so that he can profess his innocence and shed light on what really happened. But when they arrive at the prison, he changes his mind and the filmmakers leave empty handed.

As our film ends, Rand is convicted and sent to prison and the families of the victims believe that justice has been served. But no firm conclusion can be drawn. Is Rand really the boogeyman personified? Is he just a pawn for a far more sinister group of individuals? None of these questions are answered but instead, you are left to come up with your own conclusion.

Highly engrossing and suspenseful, Cropsey is one of the best documentaries I've ever seen. You can check it now via NetFlix's Instant Watch feature.

Cortez the Killer


Matt-suzaka said...

I really liked Cropsey also and found all of the history fascinating. The mental institution, the Satanic cults, the children, Rand and just the impact it all had and still has on the community. There are clear differences in opinions throughout, and it almost seems as if people would point the finger without really taking in all of the facts. Still, with a case involving children how this one does, it must be difficult for the people in the area to not be so sensitive to it all. Great documentary and one that certainly made me think.

Pax Romano said...

I enjoyed some of this, but I think the film-makers reached a bit too far. They had so many directions to go into that the film felt scattered to me.

That said, my personal belief was that Rand did not abduct these children. Clearly he is a creep of the highest order, but a child killer? I had my doubts.

The other horror in this film was the footage of the disabled children living like animals at the hospital. That was some deeply disturbing imagery.

Cortez The Killer said...

@Matt, agreed. It seemed all too easy to point the finger right at him because of his appearance. Especially telling was the scene where the guy held up his picture and said something to the effect 'Know I can say this is a child killer or he just saved some kids from a burning building and you'd buy either story.'

@Pax, it did seem like it stretched in parts a bit too much. As I've talked to other folks about the film, even the urban legend part seems to be incorporated to 'sell' the horror aspect of it.

I have my doubts that he's the killer as well, especially considering that all of the evidence was circumstantial. But why didn't he take up the filmmakers offers to clear his name? He invited them to the prison but when they got there, he changed his mind. A bit suspect if you ask me.

That footage WAS deeply disturbing. I didn't mention it in my review but definitely, the most disturbing part of the entire film.

Jay Amabile said...

I LOVED Cropsey. One of the best docs out there.

Jay Amabile said...

I'm with Pax tho...that was some disturbing footage that Geraldo exposed.

CropseyLegend said...

Thanks for opening up a discussion about Cropsey! It's great to see people having such different opinions on the doc, taking away different aspects that influenced them or that they didn't agree with. Like us on Facebook ( and follow us on Twitter (@cropseylegend) to get more info on the Cropsey! It's also out on DVD and available on iTunes--check it out!