Cropsey (2009)

Description (from the IMDB):
Realizing the urban legend of their youth has actually come true; two filmmakers delve into the mystery surrounding five missing children and the real-life boogeyman linked to their disappearances.

Special Features:
Deleted scenes, Press clips

Written by Joshua Zeman
Directed by Joshua Zeman & Barbara Brancaccio

Serial killer movies are a dime a dozen; if you do a keyword search for “serial killer” on the IMDB, there are almost two thousand listings. A serial killer movie could be dark and unsettling (HENRY: PORTRAIT OF A SERIAL KILLER), it could be extremely graphic and gory (MANIAC), it could be a dramatic character study (THE MINUS MAN), or it – much too often – can be a utter piece of crap (just about any direct-to-DVD release from Ulli Lommel). The serial killer movie can get under your skin, into your head, and stay there for days, months, or even years, when it is well done. When it isn’t done well, the serial killer movie can easily be one of the most forgettable things ever. CROPSEY is far from forgettable.

CROPSEY takes the serial killer film and turns it on its head. One of the things that made HENRY such a strong film was the near-documentary like aspect of the film; it felt like you were watching some real people do some unreal things. CROPSEY is a documentary with a near-horror feel; it’s a documentary about an (alleged) serial killer that preys on the weakest of the weak, the most innocent of the innocents: handicapped children. This idea, if it were fiction, would probably be shot down by all but the most audacious production companies. It would be hard to sell a script revolving around such a vile, baseless evil to just about anyone, unless it ended with some sort of extreme punishment for the bad guy. Extreme punishment. However, with CROPSEY there is no script to sell, there is no story to convince a producer to go along with, because the story came directly from the realities of early 1980’s Staten Island. There is no disbelief to suspend, because the story is from the real world.

Zeman and Brancaccio were drawn together upon finding out the local NY urban legend of Cropsey, the hook/machete/ax (depending on who’s telling it) wielding psycho child killer, has come true. Andre Rand, a homeless drifter living on the grounds of, and formerly working at, Willowbrook State School (a mental institution) was arrested in 1987 and charged with the kidnapping and murder of Jennifer Schweiger, a little girl with Down syndrome. He was eventually convicted of kidnapping (but not the murder), and given a sentence of twenty-five to life. CROPSEY is the story of Andre and Jennifer, and a slew of other children that may or may not have been his victims.

CROPSEY takes the documentary and makes it scary. It is a creepy, unsettling piece of filmmaking that, like the good serial killer films, gets under your skin and into your head. The story is told through a combination of old news clips, narration, new interviews, and footage from the skeleton of the Willowbrook School. The video quality is good; it’s not super-crisp HD, but it’s far from a 1CCD camera or anything like that. To compliment the video, the sound quality is top-notch. There was rarely an occasion where I had a hard time hearing or understanding anything, and that is often not the case in lower-budget films, and even more so in documentaries. The narration is well written and delivered, and the use of news footage is very well done. The best technical part of the film was the editing, it flows seamlessly from old news footage to today at the school to interviews and back again.

Overall, I really enjoyed CROPSEY. It is the first film in my collection that will be listed as a Documentary Horror, and with the size of my movie collection, it’s not often that I can say that a movie is the first of anything! CROPSEY was a film that sucked me in and didn’t let go until it was over; it was a highly enjoyable film about a completely reprehensible set of occurrences. Creepy, creepy, creepy…

Overall 8 / 10


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