Growing up recluse in a dazzling world of Manhattan

Updated: 2015-02-16 11:55


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Growing up recluse in a dazzling world of Manhattan

The siblings grew up with the confines of a four-bedroom apartment in the Lower East Side of Manhattan. Although they were rarely allowed outside, they lived vicariously through watching movies. [Photo/]

The strange story of six brothers and one sister who grew up in New York but were never allowed out to explore the city's streets has become the subject of a new documentary, The Wolfpack, from director Crystal Moselle.

The Angulo siblings - Bhagavan, 23, twins Govinda and Narayana, 22, Mukunda, 20, Krisna, 18, Jagadesh, 17, and their sister Visnu - lived with their parents on welfare in a four-bedroom apartment in Manhattan's Lower East Side. Their father, Oscar, who believes that New York will 'contaminate' his children kept the front door locked and no one else was allowed a key.

Home-schooled by their mother, the siblings found an outlet watching movies which gave them a taste, albeit a warped one, of the outside world.

In all they had watched about 5,000 movies which were rented or bought cheaply.

They fed their imaginations by meticulously re-enacting favorite movies - works by Quentin Tarantino, Christopher Nolan and Martin Scorcese among them.

Their movie reconstructions were elaborate - at one point, two of the brothers recreated Batman: Dark Knight Rises' costumes out of no more than cereal boxes and yoga mats. The brother says: 'After I saw the Dark Knight, that made me believe that something was possible to happen. Not because it was Batman, it’s because it felt like another world.

Finally, one of the brothers escaped the home, and the clan is forced to readjust and begin taking their first steps into society.

The story emerged in 2010, when Ms Moselle met one of the brothers - then aged between 11 and 18 years old - on a rare escape into the outside world. Ms Moselle described first seeing the brothers, on First Avenue, when they were all walking in a 'pack', wearing sunglasses. Their look had been inspired by a favorite film, Reservoir Dogs.

The filmmaker befriended the boys, slowly earned the family's trust and was invited into their sheltered world, bringing her camera with her.

Ms Moselle said that boy's mother, Susanne Angulo, slowly opened up to her but described father, Oscar, was a 'rollercoaster'.

Their father, Oscar Angulo, appears on briefly on camera. The Peruvian immigrant, who is devoted to Hare Krishna, appears caught in a struggle with paranoia and alcohol.

However filmmaker Ms Moselle reserved judgement on Mr Angulo, telling The Times: 'The thing is, these brothers are some of the most gentle, insightful, curious people I’ve ever met. Something was clearly done right.'