Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Beware The Slenderman (2017)

 Irene Taylor Brodsky


Morgan Geyser
Anissa Weier
Payton Leutner
Angie Geyser
Bill Weier
Kristi Weier
Tom Haynes


On May 31st, 2014, the police department in Waukesha, Wisconsin received a phone call about the brutal stabbing of a 12-year-old girl in the wilderness. She manages to survive the attack and tells the man who finds her that her best friend had committed the crime. Her best friend, Morgan and another classmate named Anissa lured Payton into the woods to kill her because they believed that this internet meme known as the Slenderman would kill their family if they didn't do it.

I remembered roughly five years ago, I got told about this "incredibly" scary internet game called Slender: The Eight Pages. A game where you have to collect eight notes in the dark woods. With each letter that you obtained, you would start to get stalked and preyed upon by a tall, faceless figure known as the Slenderman. I can remember that the game was a lot of fun, quick and at times sort of creepy. It was a fun way to spend fifteen minutes. If memory serves me correctly, I don't think I was ever able to collect all eight notes.

I must also make note that I'm a big fan of Reddit (No Sleep) and (Let's Not Meet). I enjoy reading scary true stories and stories that people have created from all around the world. I've always had a fascination with the dark web as well. I'm not one to go exploring, but I find the whole idea that the dark web is like an iceberg. Most people just see the tip and this tiny bit on the surface, but underneath, it's an incredibly dark world. There is a lot of evil out there and while this documentary doesn't delve into it. It's an examination of how two young girls read about the stories of Slenderman and take the tale way too far.

I can't say that outside of the Slenderman game that I've played, I knew much about the whole creation of the character or how much the legend took the web by storm. It wasn't until I started watching Beware The Slenderman that I got a real sense of how deeply involved people got with the whole craze. This documentary focuses mainly on the crime that involved two young twelve-year-old girls who lured their classmate into the local woods and stabbed her nineteen times. Being a true crime documentary, this tried to juggle a lot, and I think that hurt it at times.

The elements of the documentary that I really enjoyed was the footage of the young girls being interrogated by the police. I found it quite uncomfortable to watch. It was very creepy that the girl who planned it was the most emotional and remorseful after the crime had been committed and couldn't go through with it yet the girl who was the one that did the stabbing was the one who was coerced into it but doesn't show any empathy. It was very eerie to watch. Both girls seemed very intelligent and way beyond their years. Yes, they believed in Slenderman, but they feel very dangerous.

I also liked the interviews with the parents of the two girls who committed the crime. To see the parents trying to come to terms with their two children being trialled as adults yet missing them since they committed the crime was pretty depressing. It's also incredibly heartbreaking to watch the parents trying to understand where they went wrong or why they didn't see the signs earlier. The scenes of Morgan's mother talking about her daughter not being affected by Disney movies and deaths on TV was extremely sad to watch. The parents couldn't do much but blame themselves, and it's unfortunate to watch.

What was disappointing about the documentary was all of the filler about the origins of the whole Slenderman thing. I didn't care much for historians trying to connect the entire history of this Slenderman to The Pied Piper and other fairy tales from the past. What I would've preferred was they started at where Slenderman was created on the internet and how much it took hold of the net. They do go into detail about this, but I think it would've flowed better had they just stuck to the whole Slenderman thing and the crime.

Another element that was missing from the documentary that I was waiting for but never got was the victim. We barely touch on her story. We are shown some footage, and we find out she was Morgan's best friend up until year four, and that's about it. Her parents may have not wanted to participate in the movie, and I can understand that, but I would've liked to see how she's recovered since the crime or even heard if the parents of the victim had spoken to the other parents. We get nothing, and I can't help but be a little disappointed.

Not having much to do with the victim or any interviews with the family feel's like it makes this almost a compassion piece for the ones who committed the crime. It feels like it's almost trying to make you feel for the two girls and their families. Some folks may not take it this way, but for me, that's how it felt. It appears like they are almost trying to humanise the two girls and it just didn't sit well with me at all. I didn't go in expecting some slanderous film, but without the victim, it feels very one-sided. We even get moments with the friends who are all smiles like nothing terrible had even happened. Those moments didn't work for me.



- A video of Slenderman holding a severed human head.
- A stop motion video of a rat being bashed to death.
- A real video of a woman feeding a mouse to her cat.

Beware The Slenderman is worth a once off watch. It's a decent documentary, but I don't think I'd watch it again. It feels like once I've seen it, I don't need to revisit it again. The subject matter in this feels very one-sided at times. The subject matter also delves into the history of the Slenderman and where his origins may have come from which I didn't find all that interesting. Had they given us more of the victim and interviews with her family, I may have given this a better score. I recommend this one for the police interrogation scenes.

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