USA, 2009, 84 Minute Running Time
Genre/Subjects: Documentary, Horror, Social Issues
Digital presentation - In the summer of 1987, Jennifer Schweiger, a 13-year old girl with Down Syndrome, disappeared from her neighborhood in Staten Island, New York, leaving the close-knit community in shock. As far as her peers were concerned, only one person could have taken her – Cropsey.
A figment of the collective imagination of their own parents, who conjured his legend to get them home before dark, Cropsey was supposedly a mental patient from the abandoned Willowbrook Mental Institution who snatched children and murdered them with the hook he had in place of a hand. The accounts of this boogeyman worked like a charm – until he materialized in the form of Andre Rand, a vagrant who was living in the secret tunnel system underneath Willowbrook when he was arrested by police, who soon thereafter found the body of young Jennifer.
Future filmmakers Joshua Zeman and Barbara Brancaccio were two of the young Staten Islanders whose world was shaken that summer; with this documentary, they examine the legend that kept them confined to their backyards – and the real-life mystery that continues to unfold to this day, as the case of Rand and his connection to a number of missing children remains unsolved. Incorporating chilling news clips and interviews with the parents, lawyers, and police involved, Zeman and Brancaccio attempt to determine once and for all if Rand was truly guilty of heinous crimes – or if he was a handy scapegoat for a community lost in grief and seeking closure to their nightmare. Reflecting the power of folklore, Cropsey is a classic tale of horror– made all the more terrifying by the fact that it is true.
DIRECTOR: Barbara Brancaccio, Joshua Zeman
Producer: Joshua Zeman, Barbara Brancaccio, Zachary Mortensen
Editor: Anita Gabrosek, Tom Patterson
Screenwriter: Joshua Zeman
Cinematographer: Chad Davidson
US Distributor: Cinema Purgatorio
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