When you first hear the synopsis behind The Wolfpack, you almost impulsively think it’s a real life horror story: for fourteen years, a family of six boys and a girl were locked away in an apartment, located in the projects of the Lower East Side of Manhattan. The Angulo brothers: Mukunda, Narayana, Govinda, Bhagavan, Krisna (Glenn), and Jagadesh (Eddie), and their sister Visnu—learned about the outer world by watching movies. They had been homeschooled by their mother, Susanne, and kept in a four-bedroom apartment. Their father, Oscar, forbade the kids and their mother from leaving the apartment – save for a rare and guarded “trip” outside because he had the only key – which immediately spells signs of abuse of one form or another.
When 15-year-old Mukunda decided in January 2010 to go outdoors and actually see his neighborhood – against the father’s strict rule – things change. The Angulo boys begin exploring Manhattan by actually re-enacting scenes from some of their favorite movies (of which their collection was sizeable, as it was all they had). Aside from acting out the scenes, all props and costumes they used were handmade from objects found around their apartment. Filmmker Crystal Moselle, a graduate of the School of Visual Arts, spotted them as they were walking down 1st Avenue, dressed in the outfits worn by Tarantino’s Reservoir Dogs. Because of her intrigue and interest, the story begins to take shape as she befriends them and their tale unfolds.
As I stated, it feels like a tragedy as their story is told, but if anything, it’s a story of triumph as the boys grow and start to gently rebel by spending more time outdoors and away from their father’s unstable ways. If there’s one heartbreak in watching this film, it’s their mother, who seems both defeated and passive. But there is a happy ending of sorts – even though the real story is just beginning.
A fine and riveting film, without a doubt.
The Wolfpack is now available on pay-per-view