Upon seeing a group of long-haired teenage boys dressed in matching suits on the streets of NYC, documentary filmmaker Crystal Moselle’s curiosity gets the better of her. She strikes up a conversation with the boys, thus opening up a truly bizarre world to her camera and us viewers alike. Housebound in an apartment on New York’s Lower East Side and raised strictly on Krishna and Hollywood films, the Angulo brothers (now known as “The Wolfpack“) story must be seen to be believed.
In the 1960s their American mother Suzanne met a man on her travels through Peru, they married and returned to the US where they lived on welfare and raised a clan of boys (six brothers and one sister to be exact) who were home-schooled by their mother and only allowed to step foot outside the apartment a few times a year due to their father’s fear of “the outside” i.e. corruption, drugs, crime, violence.
But aside from being a tyrannical drunk their father was also a film fanatic and encouraged this sons to share in his hobby also. With a collection of roughly 5000 films, which they would watch and re-watch, often spending hours obsessively transcribing the dialog and reenacting their favourites (usually something by Tarantino) with seriously elaborate costumes and props.
Their father Oscar chooses not to work, seeing it as a slave life, named all his children after Hindu gods and raised them in the Hare Krishna faith. In some of their home videos, all wearing KISS make-up and looking like some whacked-out Amazon tribe, they appear to have had some good times despite living in perpetual fear. Eventually one brother ventures out, wearing a Michael Myers mask for safety, and after stalking the streets for hours the authorities are eventually called and he’s taken to a hospital for a psychiatric evaluation wherein the whole story comes out.
Director Moselle certainly stumbled on a thoroughly fascinating story here and through interviews with the family, old home movies and some impressive interpretations of Pulp Fiction and Batman Begins, her documentary captures a very unique household. My only real criticism of the documentary is that I wish it was slightly more in-depth in some regards, for example concerning Oscar’s ideology. He’s quite clearly painted as the villain here but we get to hear little from him despite the director stating they have a good relationship and he’s always willing to speak on camera, why not explore his side a little more then?. There’s also a 20/20 episode about the brothers and it’s almost more informative than the documentary.
A must see for fans of oddball characters and outsider documentaries.
A six minute Q&A with director Crystal Moselle on topics such as how the boys are handling their fame and how open they were with her at first.
Available on R4 DVD from Madman Entertainment.