The existence of a mythical “Bogeyman” is perhaps one of the greatest impulses that drives the concept of horror filmmaking. Stripped to its very essence, the idea is as basic as the supernatural directly affecting our everyday peaceful lives.
By creating inexplicable danger where there otherwise wouldn’t be any, fear arises and forces audiences to consider what might be lurking out there. It is a very effective method of entertainment, as so many of us love to be scared.
However, this love for things that go bump in the night is only appealing when no actual risk of the terror we see on screen can affect us. When the Bogeyman becomes real – or at the very least, when others act on its behalf – the fun comes to an abrupt end. A derivative of the Bogeyman concept, the Slenderman, began to grow in popularity after its introduction as an Internet meme occurred back in 2009 on the Something Awful Internet forum. Though the creation took many forms, by 2014 The Slenderman was being linked to a brutal attempted murder.
The murder attempt occurred when two 12-year-old girls in Waukesha, Wisconsin held down a fellow classmate and stabbed her 19 times. Though their victim didn’t die, the two culprits later revealed that they committed the vicious act in order to appease the fictitious Slenderman. The story was huge news at the time and now HBO has released the first trailer for its Beware the Slenderman documentary, which can be seen above.
Both 12-year-old girls responsible for the attack have been diagnosed as mentally ill, but the reasoning for their brutality is unsettling. Citing The Slenderman’s ability to read minds and teleport as well his continuous watch over her, one of the girls involved in the stabbing claimed that she had also had conversations with Lord Voldemort of the Harry Potter franchise and one of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. The girls had read extensively about The Slenderman online and were of the belief that the only way to become one of the supernatural character’s proxies was to take the initial step of committing a murder in his name. After being stabbed and left for dead in the woods, the victim managed to crawl to a nearby road where a passing cyclist discovered her and called for help. In 2015, it was announced that both girls responsible for the attack would be tried as adults. If convicted, they face up to 40 years in prison.
HBO’s handling of this subject matter looks particularly creepy in Beware The Slenderman, ensuring that true crime fans will be engrossed by what they see. What’s especially chilling about this story is that it seems to be a case of one child convincing another to take part in an unthinkable crime. This sort of horror goes beyond the fun thrills that the average horror film provides and instead delves into the heart of a supernatural character with a very troubled following. It isn’t just the case that occurred in Wisconsin in which The Slenderman has been blamed – there have been a host of others over the years as well.
Is Beware The Slenderman reporting on tragic events that occurred as a result of The Slenderman, or are they engaging in a somewhat lurid form of shock horror? Right now it’s hard to say. Past HBO documentaries on a variety of topics have done excellent jobs in terms of examining the facts they’re presenting. Hopefully Beware The Slenderman will knock away the intrigue surrounding the supernatural creation and instead portray it as the horrific tragedy that it’s become.