Urban legends have existed for as long as people have been telling each other stories. Much like fairy tales, urban legends serve as cautionary tales that keep people in line. It only makes sense that the digital age would give birth to urban legend creations of its own. Around 2009, the internet came up with Slender Man, a slim, faceless figure with a penchant for abducting children. Irene Taylor Brodsky’s documentary film, Beware the Slenderman, tells the story of a couple of real-life 12-year-old girls that fell under Slender Man’s spell.
The Slender Man mythology may be a fairy tale, but to a couple of impressionable 12-year-old girls, Slender Man was a potential savior. Beware the Slenderman focuses on the girls fascination with Slender Man and the dark road their infatuation took them down. After encountering numerous Slender Man myths in YouTube videos and online message boards, the two girls eventually lure an unsuspecting friend into the woods, stab her nearly 20-times, and leave her for dead. The film then switches lanes, shifting its focus from the Slender Man mythology to a true crime investigation.
Brodsky thoroughly examines the facts surrounding the case; she interviews the girl’s family and friends, consults with experts, and provides video footage of the court proceedings. Brodsky also packs in a few genuinely shocking moments, there is a revelation late in the film that casts the tragic events surrounding the case in an entirely different light.
Beware the Slenderman poses a fascinating question: as the internet’s collective consciousness gains more influence over us, who should we hold accountable when things go awry? It’s an intriguing question, and Brodsky provides the springboard to launch an important discussion. People drawn into the film by Slender Man’s name may be disappointed; the film is less concerned with urban legends than it is with legal drama. However, if you are a fan of true crime stories, Beware the Slenderman should be right up your alley.