Review: ‘Wolfpack’ tracks teen brothers and isolation

Tom Long
The Detroit News

A fascinating document of human resilience and creativity, “The Wolfpack” also raises questions about the line between eccentric parenting and child abuse.

Meet the Angulo brothers, all six of them teens, raised in an apartment on the Lower East Side of Manhattan. And seriously, they were raised IN that apartment. Their father, a Peruvian Hare Krishna immigrant unemployed drunk, rarely let them leave the place. One year they were never let outside at all.

Home-schooled by their meek, Michigan-born mother, the boys — who all sport extremely long hair and have first names like Bhagavan and Govinda — grew up learning about the world through movies and videos. For recreation, they’d re-enact scenes from “Reservoir Dogs” and “The Godfather” and assorted horror movies, using outfits and props made out of cereal boxes and whatnot.

Their isolation begins to dissipate when one brother dares to leave the apartment wearing a horror-movie mask and wanders down to the street, where he’s picked up eventually and sent to a mental hospital. He’s returned to the apartment after a week, but his glimpse of the outside world inspires the others to test freedom.

Which is when director Crystal Moselle discovers them. They’re still living their movie-fueled, enclosed lives for the most part, but also beginning to explore the bigger world. She follows them on the subway, to Coney Island and, most remarkably, trails them as they set out to see their first film in a theater. Their minds are blown.

Luckily, the family also filmed their sequestered life — movie re-enactments, a bizarre Halloween party, a dance routine to cheesy pop. It all adds up to a story of the human spirit’s ability to survive and even thrive despite twisted circumstance.

‘The Wolfpack’


Rated R for language

Running time: 80 minutes