Cropsey started as the legend the filmmakers heard as kids. It narrates into both an investigation into Andre Rand, the Boogey Man of the operation, and the modern history and character of Staten Island. Both of the movie’s directors, Joshua Zeman and Barbara Brancaccio, grew up on the island, terrified of the Cropsey myth.
The infamous unnerving tale became a reality in 1987, when the body of 12-year-old Jennifer Schweiger was found buried outside the disused mental institute Willowbrook State School. The appalling conditions in which Willowbrook’s young patients suffered when it was running is sickening. Barely clothed children huddled in corners with the stench having said to be indescribable. The facility was ultimately shut down and seemingly abandoned, but the extensive network of tunnels beneath the structure continued to house a number of people including past employees, stray patients, and a man named Andre Rand.
When 12-year-old Schweiger went missing, Rand was suspected and eventually charged with her kidnapping. Once her body was found, a murder charge was added and he was sentenced to 25 years. Now, not only had the legend of Cropsey become a reality, but officially, the bogeyman had a name. Rand was not an escaped mental patient, but was an orderly there and even lived in makeshift campsites in the woods surrounding Willowbrook.
The directors even came close to interviewing Rand in prison, only to be turned away at the door. Cropsey implies that Rand having worked at Willowbrook might very well have broken his mind and turned him into the monster he seemingly became.
While some of Cropsey’s subjects recognize the possibility Rand is innocent, others remain eager to dump the blame on him. Even worse, Rand’s lifelong jail sentence doesn’t bring the families any closer to locating the remains of their loved ones, inhibiting them from finding closure.
Urban legends, with their manifold versions, are not things that can easily be determined as true or untrue as Cropsey states, but when it has good possibility to be real, it can make things really quite frightening. If documentary style movies are your thing, Cropsey will be for you.
WICKED RATING: 6/10
Director: Barbara Brancaccio, Joshua Zeman
Writer(s): Joshua Zeman
Stars: Joshua Zeman, Barbara Brancaccio, Bill Ellis
Studio/ Production Co: Antidote Films (I), Afterhours Productions, Ghost Robot
Sub-Genre: Crime, Documentary