The Wolfpack, 2015.
Directed by Crystal Moselle.
Starring Bhagavan Angulo, Govinda Angulo, Jagadisa Angulo, Krsna Angulo, Mukunda Angulo, and Narayana Angulo
Locked away from society in an apartment on the Lower East Side of Manhattan, the Angulo brothers learn about the outside world through the films that they watch. Nicknamed, ‘The Wolfpack,’ the brothers spend their childhood reenacting their favorite films using elaborate homemade props and costumes. Their world is shaken up when one of the brothers escapes and everything changes.
It seems pretty safe to assume that both me the writer and you the reader enjoy movies. If not, I really don’t know why you are here but that’s not the point. Movies are escapism for us, offering up numerous styles and genres; there is an endless vortex of content for us to consume, whether it be for stimulation or entertainment.
But what if movies were all you knew and your beacon of knowledge for the world around you? It’s an uneasy thought, which is probably why The Wolfpack begins by showing off the Angulo brothers performing their homemade interpretation of the Quentin Tarantino classic Reservoir Dogs. That’s an amazing film created by one of the greatest auteurs to ever grace cinema, but what if that movie, with its shocking levels of brutality and nonstop usage of the F-bomb were clueing you in to the world outside of your small apartment complex in the Lower East Side of Manhattan?
The subjects of this documentary are nothing short of fascinating; the story around their reclusiveness from society is even more enthralling. How did the father get away with locking his multiple children away from civilization; a better question is why would anyone do such a thing. The beliefs of the mindset of the father of the Angulo apartment housing is an unorthodox one; something that you really can’t take your eyes off of. It isn’t even just his bizarre moral code and fear of everything going wrong that’s disorienting, but also the religion that this family practices that is quite jarring.
Movies are how the children coped with this unhealthy upbringing though, as they jot down the scripts to revered films ranging from Christopher Nolan’s Batman Trilogy, Quentin Tarantino masterpieces, numerous iconic horror films, and much more just to perform their own reenactment. The imagination of the boys is something to behold considering that they create a Batsuit out of cardboard from cereal boxes and yoga pads.
For how unwavering their imagination is though, they are highly unadjusted to the outside world. One of the boys decides to leave the apartment for the first time but does so dressed in broad daylight as Michael Myers. Unsurprisingly he is brought to the police where he is informed of plenty every day things, including the Internet, something we use every day and probably can’t imagine life without.
The Wolfpack settles in on focusing on the gradual transition from essentially being cavemen to understanding how to function within society, along with the resentment they come to grow for their father. You cannot blame the boys, but I’m not sure if this was the wisest or most interesting decision for the documentary. When it is most engaging to watch is when the brothers are creating movies themselves, whipping up props and costumes from the most basic objects. Equally fascinating is their grasp on common concepts you and I probably never think once about. I know I never become filled with glee because the movie ticket I bought is going to the director or studio, but that’s because my first theater experience wasn’t when I was a young adult. It’s genuinely disturbing in a harmless way watching these boys worm their way into acceptance.
There just isn’t enough of it. The documentary tries to tackle one too many subjects within a short running time of 89 minutes, unfortunately leaving something to be desired regardless of how unique this family is to watch. It also doesn’t help that there are some really pointless scenes of them cooking or dancing or picking fruit off of a tree. The Wolfpack works best when the subjects are just being let out into the world to experience things for the first time themselves and interacting among one another, showcasing their homemade movie skills, or displaying how their massive knowledge of cinema has drilled unbelievable visions of the outside world into their head.
For the most part it’s highly satisfying and transfixing to watch, but could have used either more material or a focus on the more interesting aspects. Still though, you absolutely will not forget about the Angulo family after watching this; if anything we need a follow-up to see how they are continuing to adjust.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ ★ ★ / Movie: ★ ★ ★
Robert Kojder – An aficionado of film, wrestling, and gaming. Follow me on Twitter or friend me on Facebook