In 2009 Barbara Brancaccio and Joshua Zeman combined their efforts to produce this film about an urban myth that became reality for the community of Staten Island. The story of scary man who would take away children had become true when 5 children disappeared from their hometown. Later the myth took on even more reality when a drifter was arrested and tried for the killing of one of these children.
This film is an amazing look at the community of Staten Island and the controversy that has encircled it as far back as the Willowbrook State School. Strangely the school would take a prominent role in this film even though it had been closed for almost a decade when the first child disappeared. The main suspect was Andre Rand, a former inmate of Willowbrook and a drifter with a sketchy past. The film examines his original trial and conviction as well as the trial held years later in relationship to another child.
Throughout the film different officials and residents are interviewed showing a divided community. Some people felt that Rand was definitely the killer while many others felt that justice had not been done. Rand was elusive throughout the film except for letters he sent to the filmmakers. His argument was that he had been framed. Theories of satanic cults and other suspects are also explored in this deep documentary.
This is an amazing documentary about the real horror behind an urban myth. The interviews are done well and don’t appear to be done from a position of bias. They also managed to find a large amount of news footage and other documents from the original cases.
I would suggest this film for anyone who likes documentary filmmaking or real-life crime stories.
I give this film 3.7 out of 5 stars.
Rating: Not Rated
Running Time: 84 minutes