In 2010, New York’s School of Visual Arts graduate, Crystal Moselle happened to spot six Reservoir Dogs lookalikes strolling through Manhattan; intrigued, she managed to strike up a conversation with the Ray-Ban clad clan only to discover that they were all siblings and on their first excursion outdoors in months due to an over-protective father.
As Moselle delved further into their story she discovered that the Angulo children consisted of six brothers and one sister, all of whom were home schooled by their Mother and had been confined to their run-down apartment for over a decade by their domineering Peruvian Father, Oscar. With practically no contact from the outside world, the boys’ only view of life other than that from their small window at the top of their building was that of an extensive VHS and DVD collection.
Films weren’t just a two hour piece of escapism for them; they became embedded in their DNA. They breathed film. They would meticulously write the dialogue of their favourites and bind them with cover art and then distribute characters between themselves before recreating some of the biggest releases of recent years using an array of impressive homemade props and costumes. The Dark Knight, Pulp Fiction, Halloween and numerous others all received the Angulo Brothers’ treatment.
At the boys’ own admission, it was the watching and recreation of these pieces of cinema, which helped maintain their sanity during their long periods of confinement. Moselle has truly stumbled upon a subject matter which Louis Theroux would have been proud of and she gives each member of the family, including Oscar, their chance to explain their situation which creatively must have been a difficult decision, yet it is certainly the correct one.
The home movie footage of the boys, including their blockbuster imitations provides a wonderful ‘you must see it to believe it’ insight into the everyday life of a family who are not only extremely charismatic and lovable but also fully aware of their perilous situation regarding their confinement. These scenes fit comfortably with the more recent interview footage filmed by Moselle who puts her cinematic eye to great use by creating some wonderful pieces of juxtaposition through imagery, as we hear the boys talking of freedom, whilst being framed against darkened walls and barred windows.
There are some questions which remain unanswered that could have been explored with much greater depth, yet all of this seems insignificant due to a satisfying finale which could easily have left a sickly sweet aftertaste, but is instead downplayed beautifully to leave you feeling oddly uplifted and confident that the brothers will enjoy a new reality every bit as exciting and important as the films they grew up with.
The Wolfpack is now showing at FACT - book tickets here.