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When filmmaker Mark Laita first released his documentary on the Whittaker family, videos showed a desperate scene of an inbred clan living in squalor and communicating in grunts and squeals.
It appeared hopeless that the siblings and cousin, who were so badly deformed their eyes pointed in different directions, would ever see contact with the outside world or escape their poverty-stricken West Virginia shack.
But things have taken a miraculous turn for the Whittakers with a heart-warming new video released by Mark on YouTube showing them laughing and enjoying his company.
READ MORE: Horrors of 'world's most inbred family' found living in squalor and beset by deformities
It’s a stark contrast to his first visit, where he likened them to toothless rednecks in the film Deliverance and described them “screaming and running away” with “pants around their ankles”.
"And this would happen over and over,” Mark said. “It was out of control – the craziest thing I have ever seen."
The remarkable transition for the inbred family came after the filmmaker started a GoFundMe to help their “soft white underbelly” and spent time building a relationship with them.
Hundreds of people sent money to help the family with food and day-to-day life – and the touching results have left generous donators stunned by their progress.
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One wrote: “Something really stands out from the first video to now.
“They each have a spark in their eye they didn't have in the first video. They each have a smile now.
“I can't help but believe it is due to your friendship, kindness and generosity and of course those who donate to them has helped immensely as well.”
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Another added the family “seem to be happier than they were before and jovial,” adding: “They are really doing so much better since your first visit with them.”
Others praised the simple “beauty” in the lives they lead and said: “They [have] the simplest lives yet [seem] the most happy.
“While all of us are running around on technology and worrying about money, these people are simply just living life and enjoying each other.”
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The incredible transformation came after Mark gained the trust of the family despite accusations he was exploiting them.
He defended his work and responded: "I think it's good for people to know that a lot of these things exist.
"Everything can be viewed as exploitative. I'm exposing or creating awareness of what is going on in our country."
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