biography, documentary

The Wolfpack

The Wolfpack, 2015

The Wolfpack, 2015

Sixteen floors above New York City, the Angulo siblings were trapped in their family’s apartment for 14 years. To say movies served as an escape is a gross understatement, since one could argue their father’s collection of 5,000 films is all the kids had. Makes sense, then, that the six brothers spent their time intensely watching these films and recreating them shot for shot. Director Crystal Moselle was the brothers’ first guest in the apartment, and The Wolfpack provides a surprisingly unbiased look at the past and present (at the time of filming of course) lives of the Angulo’s.

The thrill of the documentary is learning the history of this family, so explaining exactly how and why these siblings were stuck is no fun. In non-spoiling short, their self-proclaimed enlightened father aimed to create his own “tribe” or “race” with his sons, who at first glance are identical. Each of them loves film, quoting and referring to them constantly. Wolfpack remarkably mixes the boys’ own footage (home video and their film reenactments) and Moselle’s to the point that she has called the film rather collaborative and one begins to wonder if any of the Angulo’s world is pretend. But then there’s startling scenes of the boys’ entrapment. The filming of children trick or treating, the emotional confessions from mother Susanne, the proclamation from one brother that “I learned that Google was a new word that I never heard of” reminds us that these boys have, in fact, lived in lockdown the majority of their lives.

Wolfpack leaves many unanswered questions, from “Why did their father claim to be protecting his sons from violence while letting one of their favorite films be Reservoir Dogs?” to “What is each member of this family doing now?” Moselle’s choice of not including any sort of differentiation of the brothers, even in providing their names during interviews, makes the question marks at the end more acceptable, since viewers never necessarily meet individuals of the family. After all, they’re the wolf pack.

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