‘The palest man, the blackest suit. Bigger than the tallest brute’
Beware the Slenderman (stylized as _beware the slenderman) is a 2016 American documentary film produced and directed by Irene Taylor Brodsky for Home Box Office (HBO).
The 117m film premiered at the South by Southwest festival in March 2016 and is rumored to be broadcast on HBO in January 2017.
On May 31, 2014, a pair of twelve-year-old girls in Waukesha, Wisconsin allegedly held down and stabbed another classmate nineteen times. When questioned by authorities, they reportedly claimed that they wished to commit a murder as a first step to becoming proxies for the creepypasta character Slenderman, having read about it online.
HBO filmmakers gained exclusive access to the families of the 12-year-old girls and have combined this with CGI renderings of the fictional so-called Slenderman.
It has been circulating around the internet for more than five years, terrorizing children, scaring even hardened Redditors and creating an overwhelming sense of unease in anyone who runs across the tales of the supernatural figure. Born out of a 2009 meme, the chilling individual has been the source of folk tales, video games, and now, documentaries.
Brodsky uses the (fictional) disturbing figure to explore not only the effect that Internet lore has on real-life actions, but also how the digital age is saturating the imagination and actions of children…
“Irene Taylor Brodsky’s documentary is mostly a straightforward, inevitably engrossing true-crime tale. But it does implicitly make the larger point that letting kids spend umpteen hours interacting with the virtual rather than real world can reap results from the mildly antisocial to the homicidally delusional.” Dennis Harvey, Variety
“The movie is at its most absorbing at its most sensational, when it follows its wild Slenderman story to its most far-out reaches. But the ultimate responsibility for the crime is located somewhere less outrageous than its details—in the middle of a perfect storm of social isolation and mental illness. There’s no failure of the justice system or the parents or the school or even the internet, really.” Henry Stewart, Brooklyn magazine
“Beware the Slenderman is much better when dealing with the nature of the modern myth; how urban legends can quickly spread across all forms of media, and how they can effect young, impressionable minds. For that reason it’s a powerful cautionary tale of the relationship children have with the Internet, and how what is fun for some can turn into a dangerous obsession for others.” Chris Tilly, IGN
“Watching mothers and fathers try to figure out how this could have happened is heartbreaking. Morgan’s mother talks about how her daughter didn’t have empathy at a young age; Anissa’s dad swears he monitored her online usage. We later learn that Morgan has a severe mental illness and Anissa was bullied. In both cases, it feels like the internet was merely a household match to light the fire.” Brian Tallerico, RogerEbert.com