Beware The Slenderman is an HBO documentary about The Slenderman Stabbing. On May 31, 2014, two twelve-year-old girls lured their friend into the woods, stabbed her 19 times, and left her there to die. According to the offending girls, they were trying to appease the popular Creepypasta character, The Slenderman.
My interest in Beware The Slenderman was not born of a particular affinity for the character, but rather to become better informed about The Slenderman stabbing. My first complaint about the documentary is actually not about the documentary itself, but rather the way it was marketed. The commercials I had seen for the documentary were heavy on CGI and unsettling imagery. They did not highlight whether the film would be more about the urban myth that is Slendeman or the actual case itself. Having now seen it, I am glad to report it is more of the latter.
I remember seeing all the headlines about this case in the media. All of them were about giving the audience someone to place their blame on. “It’s the parent’s fault for not raising their kid right. The Slenderman, Creepypastas, and the internet are ruining our youth. Why weren’t the teachers more involved with their students? Who can we crucify in our headlines to promote clicks?”
For the most part, I got what I wanted from this film: The story behind the sensationalist headlines. While it fails to present all the facts(in reality most of the media we consume fails to do so), it succeeds in humanizing two little girls who did a horrible thing and giving the families, who will be suffering for the rest of their lives, a platform to tell their stories. It also takes a look at Creepypasta’s role as modern folklore and how that might be affecting the youth in our society, who now have instant access to that kind of content.
There are, however, numerous failings with the narrative the documentarians have chosen to spin and the result is a story that feels incomplete in its telling. For starters, there is very little coverage on the victim or her family’s story. I am aware that the family of the victim may not have wanted to partake in the project for obvious and understandable reasons. The focus here is on the perpetrators and the victim’s story is kind of glazed over, almost to a point of nonexistence. Her part in the tale is equally, if not more important, so her lack of representation seems like a glaring oversight and I think the filmmakers could have handled that part a lot better.
Another glaring oversight has to do with the inclusion of the court proceedings. Everything is shown from the defense’s side of things and not much from the prosecution’s side. For instance, the film informs the audience that one of the girls has been diagnosed with a form of schizophrenia. They then show us specialist after specialist testifying to the validity of the diagnosis on the stand, but fail to identify whether these specialist are from both sides or are the defense’s chosen specialists. That is yet another important distinction not made and this film fails to make distinction’s on numerous occasions.
In the end, this is a solid film worth a watch, but I would implore that you do a bit of research before or after watching to get a better perspective of the situation as a whole. It’s my honest belief that there isn’t anyone thing to blame here. Sometimes this kind of terrifying shit just happens due to a perfect storm of circumstance. And if you don’t think this counts as horror, wait until you hear two twelve-year-olds walk a detective step-by-step through their plan to murder their best friend. The whole film can be found for free on Youtube or on your local demand services, which is how I watched it.
Have you guys seen this film yet? What’s your take on the situation? Let me know in the comments below!