Critic Consensus: Riveting and bone-chillingly creepy, Cropsey manages to be one of the best documentaries and one of the best horror movies of the year.
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Critic Reviews for Cropsey
One of the creepiest documentaries ever made, Joshua Zeman and Barbara Brancaccio's film shows how some urban legends are based on true stories even more unsettling than the myths.
Cropsey is a creepy documentary with all the elements of a horror film about a demented serial killer, and an extra ingredient: This one is real.
This disturbing true-crime documentary takes its name from a local bogeyman that video makers Joshua Zeman and Barbara Brancaccio were warned about when they were growing up on Staten Island.
A documentary that delves into what happens when the ghost stories you told as kids, the stuff of urban legends, seem to come true.
Audience Reviews for Cropsey
The good thing about this urban-legend-hunters documentary is that it is creepy and unsettling as hell, and it proves to be a fascinating blend of doc and horror film; the bad thing, however, is that the lack of answers is really frustrating and everything is left too inconclusive.
This film has been commended for its horror genre type narrative surrounding the urban legend of Cropsey, but what documentarians Zeman and Brancaccio only serve to accomplish is scare themselves. The urban legend surrounds a creepy, somewhat crazed killer, who snatches children for their bad behavior. The two point to this urban legend, in conjunction with the case of Andre Rand, a former care worker at the closed Willowbrook Mental Institution, who was accused of the abduction and murder of four children on Staten Island. The actual mental facility of Willowbrook was closed for abuse from workers and unseemly conditions, its ghosts haunting the hallowed halls and lending shelter to a supposed clan of former workers and residents. Though we do not see these people, nor are they interviewed, Zeman and Brancaccio want us to believe they exist, as well as that Rand is the eponymous boogeyman Cropsey. While these two definitely frighten the viewer with the real story of the closed institution, and intrigue us with a narrative of a misanthropic clan of hermits out in the woods, their link between Rand and Cropsey is tentative. Rand's case is picked apart here, and subjected to questioning by the documentarians, witnesses, the defense, and local residents of the adjoining town. The film doesn't serve to solve any larger mystery, but instead prods at the past in order to show "Hey, this is pretty creepy, right?" It drags on forever, trying to show inconsistencies with the case but also claiming Rand could also be the killer. The film ends ambiguously, which I absolutely hated, since this is supposedly a story of a child killer. They tried to fit this story into the overarching theme of urban legends, showing the inconsistencies between stories and the adding of elements from one person to another like a foul game of telephone, but they end up just throwing their hands in the air and walking off, unsatisfied.
This was a chilling doc about a series of child murders. It's scary to see all of the history behind it. The location is eerie and the people we meet are just as off putting sometimes. Well shot and well put together.
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