Cropsey

Cropsey

Directed by: Barbara Brancaccio, Joshua Zeman
Cast: Donna Cutugno, Karen Schweiger
Running Time: 1 hr 25 mins
Rating: Unrated
Release Date: July 16, 2010

PLOT: A documentary about a Staten Island urban legend come to life.  Filmmakers Brancaccio and Zeman examine their childhood boogeyman, Cropsey, and discover there is some truth to the legend when they examine the case of suspected child killer Andre Rand.

WHO’S IT FOR? People who have been watching the news and wondering where Kyron Horman could be.  Anyone who wondered how Jaycee Dugard managed to remain hidden for 18 years.

EXPECTATIONS: Billed as a “horror documentary”, I was expecting something along the lines of the Blair Witch Project.  I was totally off.

SCORECARD (0-10)

ACTORS:

Donna Cutugno as herself:  One of the most memorable of the many faces in Cropsy, Cutungo leads a group called “Friends of Jennifer”.  Jennifer Schweiger was a 12 year old with downs syndrome who disappeared from her home in Staten Island.  It created the sort of media firestorm that should be familiar to anyone who watches local news.  Cutugno lead many searches for Jennifer, through the woods of Staten Island and continued to be obsessed with her case as well as the cases of the other children Andre Rand would be accused of killing.  Since she’s neither related to nor even knew Jennifer before she disappeared, it becomes a mystery why she’s so obsessed with this case for so many years.  She’s an interesting character.
Score: 7

Karen Schweiger as herself:  The mother of the missing Jennifer, Schweiger’s initially seen through old press footage.  Later we see her in person, a woman still looking for justice and closure for her missing daughter twenty years later.  She only speaks to the filmmakers briefly, but she still seems determined after all this time.
Score: 6

TALKING: Though some of the most startling revelations come from the interviews, Cropsey is a well structured film that has a definite dramatic narrative.  The narration is well written and kept me interested in what would happen next.
Score: 7

SIGHTS: The film utilizes a mixture of footage; interviews and new court video are shot by the filmmakers, but there’s also a wealth of archival footage from TV news.  It’s all strung together well, they manage to keep everything the same aspect ratio without squeezing anything.  It may seem minor but I’m very picky about aspect ratio.  For a doc about crime, it looks good.
Score: 7

SOUNDS: The music at the beginning was a little too creepy horror show for my taste.  I expected to hear a creaking door and spooky laugh from a sound effects tape.  But then it calms down and smooths out.
Score: 5

PLOT SPOILERS

BEST SCENE: A preacher who once allowed Rand to stay at his home makes some startling revelations about things he claimed Rand confessed.  Is it true?  It sounds credible.  It’s hard to know.

ENDING: There’s a bit of a serpentine story here, what begins as a story about an urban legend moves into a question about a potential serial killer and finally asks, what’s scarier than a man who kills a child?  Without evil or the devil or anything supernatural.  Maybe the capacity for human evil is the scariest thing out there.

QUESTIONS:  Was Andre Rand responsible for all those murders?  Where are the bodies of the other children?  Will we ever know for sure?

REWATCHABILITY: Though a heavy subject matter, it’s still an interesting film that would be interesting.

OVERALL

This film was not what I expected at all, but I did enjoy it.  The beginning was a bit rough, the urban legend section is the weakest part of the film.  But once the movie starts going into Willowbrook Mental Institution, a terrible place where children with mental disabilities were kept, and abused, it really becomes fascinating.  Unlike a CSI episode, there is no resolution, no certainty at the end.  Instead we watch a real story, about questions that have no clear answer.  I was reminded of David Fincher’s Zodiac, how I went in thinking I would see a whodunnit but ended up with a meditation on obsession.  There’s a similar journey in this film.  You may not get answers, but you may find interesting questions.

FINAL SCORE: 7/10

2 Comments

  1. Piotr says:

    My suggestion is don’t bother watching it. I wasn’t creeped out by anything in this movie.

  2. JD says:

    How has no one connected Donna or suspected her of anything? Seriously? Rand seems to be the only suspect based off of hearsay on a fear of his looks and the fact that he was homeless. They made up as many ghost stories about him because of rumors and because of his name being on the suspect list and being convicted off of eyewitness testimony alone… None of the eye witnesses appear credible and honestly, Donna seems to fit the profile. These cases were obviously being swept under the rug because they could not solve them so they settled for any scapegoat that they could and the ignorant people ended up not realizing that criminals tend to visit the scene of the crime and Donna has a severe obsession with this as well as having kids that are special needs which in today’s society with proper training most cops would see a connection to her obsession for decades with Jennifer’s case and how much she was involved in it and STILL is involved in it, pretending to be an activist when really she was probably just upset with her own life situation and taking it out on other kids with disabilities and whenever a good scapegoat came along she made sure she pushed it on to everybody because every single Eye Witness and even people that new Rand all manage to have talked to Donna beforr any officials did, according to the movie. I have a feeling that man is completely innocent and Donna is to blame for everything. Think about how you would appreciate being a loner being down on your luck and being judged as evil for those things and then being prosecuted based on other people’s claims even people that never knew you’d want a piece of attention from the media circus that surrounds the whole thing which just makes you hate it more and that’s exactly what seems to have happened in this movie because there’s no solid evidence not even partial evidence aside from hearsay and rumor and gossip that could have easily been manipulated by the actual murderer.

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