Almost as horrific as an actual movie about this man-made monster, Beware the Slenderman, the documentary about two teenaged girls who tried to kill another young girl and then blame it on a fictional boogeyman, is one of the scarier pieces of film I’ve seen recently. Meet me after the jump for my special 31 Days of Horror review of Beware the Slenderman!
Before I get into my review of this HBO documentary about a real-life crime (and for those fans of such things, please check out Loretta Sisco‘s True Crime Corner right here at Biff Bam Pop!, now on hiatus but returning shortly), let’s be clear about one very specific thing – the Slenderman does not exist. That’s not because I’m a cynic, or I don’t buy into the paranormal, or I just don’t believe in boogeymen – it’s because he’s made up. Like Superman, Harry Potter, or Lara Croft, the Slenderman is a completely fictional thing.
Created in the early 2000s on an internet forum using photoshop memes and creative writing skills, the Slenderman, or Slender Man, was inserted into various media making it appear as if he was an urban legend that had existed for years, even decades. Described and depicted as a tall faceless man in black, anywhere from six to fifteen feet tall who kidnaps children, real or not, he has haunted our nightmares since his creation. Mine as well, that’s how well constructed this myth is.
At first known only in internet and gaming circles, the Slenderman came to mainstream prominence when connected to the near-fatal stabbing of a twelve-year old girl in Washington state in 2014. This is what the documentary Beware the Slenderman is about. This doc is so well put together and imaginative, that it might as well be a horror movie about the Slenderman, this is definitely lights-on fare.
In fear of the Slenderman, twelve-year old girls Morgan Geyser and Anissa Weier attempted to stab their best friend Payton Bella Leutner, or else the monster would get them and their loved ones. That’s the gist, so they lured her into the woods and tried to murder her. Through interviews, police interrogations, dramatizations, and spooky Slenderman videos they follow the girls’ path to destruction.
The examination of Morgan in particular is rather frightening. Diagnosed as schizophrenic, her interviews are extraordinarily horrific as she is actually seeing and believing a great number of things that aren’t there, principal among them, the Slenderman. What at first seems like shifting the blame to Morgan initially in Anissa’s interviews turns out to reveal Morgan’s hardcore beliefs in friends and monsters that don’t exist.
This is a journey of psychological and pathological horror, and I can’t help but make comparisons to Nathan Leopold and Richard Loeb, and even more to Pauline Parker and Juliet Hulme, both immortalized and dramatized in the films Rope and Heavenly Creatures – two of my favorite films, and perhaps that says more about me than this doc. But I do wonder who might play these young woman in any potential movie.
For those who like documentaries and especially those about true crime, this is something special, scary and paranormal, and frighteningly real. Recommended.