On Saturday, May 31st in 2014, two young girls stabbed their friend 19 times in Waukesha, Wisconsin. She survived after crawling from the forest and being found by a cyclist. The two girls were found walking along a road. They explained to the police that they were trying to prove their worth to “the Slender Man”. When they were found, they were on their way to the Slender Man’s mansion, hidden deep in the forest.
The police had no idea who “the Slender Man” was. The HBO documentary _Beware the Slenderman explores this question. It tries to understand what drew these young girls into believing that they had to murder their friend. And, according to the girls, if they did not kill their friend, Slender Man would hurt their families.
Slender Man is an urban legend…but unlike most urban legends, his origin is traceable. Back in 2009, a forum group called Something Awful had a Photoshop contest. Its goal was pretty simple, create paranormal photos. One user created two images of children playing. If you looked into the background, you saw a tall, thin and faceless man watching the children.
From there, other users started to build the myth of the Slender man. In some ways, this is fascinating, as they explore how Slender Man grew and became so much bigger. Especially when it was a mainstay of the Creepy Pasta community…which is where the two young women discovered him. Creepy Pasta is a web community that writes creepy stories, creates fan art and so on. Part of the inherent creepiness of the Slender Man is that he is often portrayed as a figure watching from a distance.
As the film progresses, we find there are reasons why these girls (especially one) are certain he is real. It is a truly tragic story which really has many victims. _Beware the Slenderman will both sadden and creep viewers out as it weaves it’s way through the history of the character and story of the girls as they are tried for attempted murder.
There is, admittedly a bit of an ethical controversy surrounding the film. Irene Taylor Brodsky uses other filmmakers’ footage without permission in the film, and neither she nor HBO, have given them any credit.