Revelation Film Festival – Day Seven

Thanks Revelation! I’m looking forward to the weeks of sleepless nights ahead of me following this evening’s screening of the excellent Cropsey, a documentary that has more in common with The Blair Witch Project than anything by Ken Burns. The film begins as an examination of the concept of the bogeyman, with Staten Island’s notorious legend Cropsey placed under the microscope. Barbara Brancaccio and Joshua Zeman’s doco goes on to detail the hunt for a real-life Cropsey; a mysterious serial killer who targeted local children. Bizarre details of the case are uncovered, and we are soon introduced to the prime suspect (pictured, terrifyingly, above). But is he really guilty, or simply the grieving community’s scapegoat? A real-life bogeyman born out of fear?

Brancaccio and Zeman aren’t able to deliver a definitive answer to any of the questions they raise, but the questions themselves are fascinating and thought-provoking. The duo unveils the miscarriage of justice in the aforementioned suspect’s trial (in which he was awarded the life sentence for the murder of one of the children). However, is it really a miscarriage of justice when the suspect is clearly a psycopath? How much of Staten Island’s hellmouth-esque landscape is to blame for these terrible tragedies? And just how many secrets are still hidden in its vast dumping grounds and abandoned psychiatric hospitals?

I genuinely enjoyed Brancaccio and Zemen’s hands-on, Nancy Drew-like approach to unravelling the Cropsey mystery. They traverse the town with DIY gumption, speaking to the locals, questioning police officers, taking it upon themselves to solve this thing once and for all. Playing out like a mash-up of Gone Baby Gone, Zodiac and Lake Mungo, Cropsey is one film that will stick with me for a long time. However, not all at the festival agreed. @notatuna said “Cropsey was a great story that could’ve used a better film” while @rashasman found it “quite frustrating”. I can appreciate both comments, even if I don’t personally agree.

I’ll likely remember Cropsey primarily for the experience of walking out of the cinema with my petrified girlfriend, and having to run with her through the darkened alleys of Mt. Lawley to make sure we could get into the car and drive home as quickly as possible. I suppose my Cropsey impersonations didn’t help…

Previously:

Revelation Film Festival – Day One
Revelation Film Festival – Day Two
Revelation Film Festival – Day Three
Revelation Film Festival – Day Four
Revelation Film Festival – Day Five (No wrap-up)
Revelation Film Festival – Day Six

Discuss: Feel free to share with us your feelings on the films you’ve caught at the festival so far!

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