I'm sure we've all been made aware in our lives on several occasions that the Internet can be an extremely scary place when it wants to be. And it so often does. The most notorious of all fictional online entities is the distorted and featureless bogeyman at the center of the documentary Beware the Slenderman, which is set to air on HBO next year. Actually, the doc is about a horrific real life incident inspired by said Slenderman. Check out the fairly haunting trailer below.
Back in May 2014, the town of Waukesha, Wisconsin was thrown for a loop when a bloodied preteen girl was found, the victim of 19 stab wounds. Those responsible were two schoolmates, one of them her best friend, and the motivation behind this heinous attempt at murder was the belief that killing the younger girl would appease Slenderman. To go too far into the case might dull some of the effect of the documentary itself, but the basic concept - an online myth incites deluded children to stab another child - is chilling all on its own. Those interrogation scenes alone are just icky.
The most recently feature-length documentary from director Irene Taylor Brodsky, Beware the Slenderman made its debut at South by Southwest earlier this year, with HBO Documentary Films stepping in to distribute over its network platforms, which include HBO Go and HBO Now. Critical response to the doc has been largely positive, with many lauding the way it forces viewers to put a lot more consideration into how often they and their kids are tapped into online and virtual behavior.
Hearkening back to the days when listening to records backwards supposedly relayed messages from the devil, Beware the Slenderman is about a spooky being that wasn't even around when Saw V was released. Created by Eric "Victor Surge" Knudson in 2009 as the Photoshopped image that cemented the largely uniform appearance, Slenderman, complete with "quotes" offering the minimal backstory that he makes others abduct and kill children. While not the most original or in-depth concept, Slenderman became an instant phenomenon, and more images, stories and more popped up on message boards and forums everywhere. And, eventually, he entered the confessions of children.
Slenderman has been at the heart of videos games and movies, and was even rumored to be the subject behind the latest season of American Horror Story. TNT is currently in development on a show called Creatures that is a non-subtle fictionalization of the Beware the Slenderman case. The character hasn't even peaked yet as far as mainstream populations are concerned, and the creepy side of Internet is getting more and more attention from TV and movie producers. (Go watch Syfy's Channel Zero: Candle Cove.) One can only hope that nothing else inspires the kind of attempted murder that Slenderman has.