Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
|Hungry for Monsters|
Actor: Hungry for Monsters
Director: George Csicsery
This gripping documentary captures the nightmare that one family endured after being persecuted by the mental health community and legal system.When a teenage girl confesses to a teacher that her father molested her, the e... more »
Just a sampler of a problem
P. Mann | Los Angeles | 04/27/2007
(3 out of 5 stars)
"The subject matter for this documentary is a case of alleged child molestation. As the title suggests, the film takes the premise that the allegations were false, a combination of lies and embellishments by the alleged victim, dubious "repressed memories," and an overzealous prosecution.
The facts (or, if you prefer, the plot) are fairly simple: A teenage girl is befriended by a teacher at school and spends a great deal of time with the teacher. At some point, the girl tells her teacher that her father has molested her. At this point, things move extremely quickly. The girl is removed from her parents' home. Her father is arrested and then re-arrested and then arrested a third time. Her mother is arrested. The girl undergoes therapy and claims, among other things, that her grandmother is in a coven of witches and has the power to fly on a broom.
Before long (in the film, not in real life), more responsible authorities take on the case and launch a more thorough investigation, which finds less and less substance in the girl's allegations. Moreover, there is strong evidence that the allegations owe more to fiction (for example, The Secret Diary of Laura Palmer from the television series Twin Peaks). I will not reveal more about the events in the film for those who want to see how it ends for themselves.
"Hungry for Monsters" falls in the tradition of Indictment - The McMartin Trial in its skeptical attitude toward allegations, but this film lacks the drama of the fictionalized "Indictment." For obvious reasons, the filmmaker, George Paul Csicsery had access to the participants only after the events in the film occurred, so what had to have been traumatic comes across in a rather clinical manner. Describing her arrest, for instance, the girl's mother is quite calm even though it must have been horrendous to be arrested at her job--as a school teacher. (In an odd note, the mother sits in front of a bookcase for some of her interviews, and prominent over one of her shoulders is a book by Adolf Hitler.)
The basic premise of the film also causes some problems. The premise is that the mental health people who "treated" the girl and the prosecutors who went after the parents were over-zealous. Indeed, one of the therapists was sued and held liable for malpractice. Therefore, it should not come as a great surprise to learn that the film really only shows one side of the story. One of the charges levied in the film is that the therapists and prosecutors proceeded with the belief that there had been a crime and interpreted all the facts in that light so that anything inconvenient could be rationalized away. (The victim changed her story? That's to be expected; it's typical of trauma victims.) Yet we, as the audience, are given a film that has already come to its conclusion, and we are expected to accept all the facts in that light. When one side is conspicuously absent (because the therapist, the prosecutor, and others declined to be interviewed), it becomes perhaps too easy to accept as accurate this one-sided account.
I do not mean to suggest that there was actual molestation here. I certainly have no personal knowledge of any of the people or events of the film. But this film really isn't much more than one side's account of events told through interviews. (I should add, though, that the girl herself is interviewed and sheds some light on many of the issues.) And if the memories of an alleged victim are not to be trusted, should we assume that the memories of the others are? Should we assume that the version of events the girl gives now is correct? Or is the truth somewhere in between? I simply would have liked to see more investigation into the claims and facts of the case. I assume such an investigation would only enhance the parents' side of the issue.
Then again, perhaps I am asking too much. A 69-minute film is ill-equipped to deal with topics as complex as the issue of whether repressed memories really exist, miscarriages of justice, and the complex dynamics that this case presented (especially with regard to the student-teacher relationship, one that proved here to be truly extraordinary). Perhaps this in one case in which books are far better equipped to deal with the subject matter. A couple that come to mind are Witch Hunt: A True Story of Social Hysteria and Abused Justice and Remembering Satan. And for issues of memory and its fallibility, The Myth of Repressed Memory: False Memories and Allegations of Sexual Abuse provides much more information than this film does. (This book is consistent with the claims made in the film--as the title obviously indicates. I recognize that repressed memory is a controversial topic, and I am only presenting a book that supports the film's general claim. There are certainly opposing viewpoints, and readers who are interested are encouraged to seek them out. Unfortunately, I am not an expert in the topic of memory and cannot point out the good and the bad.)
I should add that I am ambivalent about the ranking for this film. On the one hand, the film probably helps to rebut the publicity the case no doubt spawned in the newspapers and may help to restore the parents' names. And the filmmaker, to his credit, does not use reinactments (by which I mean of interviews or trial exchanges), in which actors' tones and interpretations could color the truth. Still, this film only dabbles in its subject matter where I would have preferred much more depth. (There are extended scenes that are informative, though, and I do recommend those.)"