Since the dawn of time urban legends have sent a shiver down the spine of kids and teenagers. 99% of urban legends turn out to be false, but once every blue moon some truth is revealed in a story. For several decades the residents of Staten Island (New York) heard the story of Cropsey, a man who hung around in the underground tunnels below an abandoned institution. But then in 1987 something happened that bought the legend very much into the real world.
Cropsey is a documentary that focuses on the urban legend of a killer who lives in the woods killing children, and the real life case of Andre Rand a man who worked at the Willowbrook School (exposed by Geraldo in a television documentary as having horrendous conditions), and later resided in the woods nearby, and later became linked to disappearance and murder of local children.
Cropsey is one of those documentaries that opens your eyes to both the horror of the world, and the power of the internet. As if the story itself is not harrowing enough, the documentary lures those not already in the know to the horrors of Willowbrook without a doubt one of the worst modern day atrocities that has occurred in a so called civilized country.
I was initially lured in by the fact that Cropsey (or Cropsy if you prefer) is the name of the character in the 1981 slasher movie about a caretaker who kills kids in a riverside woodland location, a location not dissimilar to that found in this documentary. While the makers confirm a certain connection to the movies character in text, it’s never really addressed in the movie.
Filmakers Joshua Zeman and Barbara Branaccio who grew up in Staten Island deliver an accomplished documentary, that delivers some genuine chills, particularly when they choose to pay a nighttime visit to the already scary woodland location where Cropsey is said to have resided, and a body was found. It shows the couple’s trip into the story of the legend, and the real character cited as the human incarnation of that legend, we follow their journey into the world of satanic cults, possible incorrect identification, and mind games of the man in question.
The only criticism of the documentary is that (and this is by no means the fault of the makers) there is no conclusion; the case is still ongoing, the truth unresolved. But from a perspective of widening the knowledge base, and sending you on your own online investigations into the various Staten Island mysteries, the movie achieves the ultimate goal.
Purchase the DVD on Region 1 format by clicking the Amazon link below.