Beware the Slenderman (2016)

beware the slenderman poster 2016 documentary
7.5 Overall Score

Slenderman mythos is interesting


Movie Info

Movie Name:  Beware the Slenderman

Studio:  HBO Films

Genre(s):  Documentary

Release Date(s):  March 11, 2016 (South by Southwest)/January 23, 2017

MPAA Rating:  Not Rated

beware the slenderman morgan geyser anissa weier mugshots

What caused them to do it?

On May 31, 2014 in Waukesha, Wisconsin, twelve-year-olds Anissa Weir and Morgan Geyser did the unthinkable.  Luring their friend Payton Leutner into the woods, Anissa and Morgan stabbed their friend multiple times and left her to die.  The cause of the attempted murder was the Slenderman and Anissa and Morgan’s attempts to appease him to become his proxies.  The Slenderman isn’t real…or is he?

Directed by Irene Taylor Brodsky, Beware the Slenderman (also written as _beware the slenderman) is a documentary film about the May 31, 2014 attack.  The film premiered at South by Southwest in 2016 and aired on HBO on January 23, 2017.

The Slender Man (or Slenderman) mythos is just strange.  It is a story that leapt from internet story to urban myth…and quickly.  The character was created in 2009 and has inspired fan fiction, mini-movies, trick photography, and games all over the internet…but a bad chain of events also led to murder in this case.

beware the slenderman anissa weier questioning police

A kid telling a story

The documentary is a bit unbalanced.  It has a few problems in that much of the audience has never heard of Slenderman.  It must first try to explain the course of event that led to Slenderman’s “birth”.  This takes up a good chunk of the documentary and it is mixed with the events and trial surrounding the attack.

The story of the attack is jumbled because of the integrated storying surrounding Slenderman and lecturers trying to explain the ideas of how a person can go from a story to reality.  I like the idea that Slenderman is a modern Pied Piper.  Unfortunately, I think what happened needs to be better established before going into these ideas and concepts.

The other big problem is that the victim Payton Leutner and her family were not part of the documentary.  This is totally understandable…it was an event that tore their lives apart and nearly killed Payton, but it makes it hard to tell the story without them.  We get two sides of the story (very thoroughly), but we never really get a good understanding of how Peyton ties into the events and the actions of the two children.

beware the slenderman stabbing fan art morgan geyser anissa weier

Because the internet is creepy…fan art

What also becomes apparent in the documentary is the problem of the case.  Morgan is schizophrenic and already susceptible to visions and delusions, but she also is pretty intelligent and did help plan the events…it is premeditated, but she’s mentally ill.  The other girl Anissa seemed to know what she was doing was wrong but continued the plans.  It becomes a question of what is right in society which almost feels like an entirely different documentary.

Beware the Slenderman could have been a mini-series like Making a Murderer if it had been developed more.  The pieces of the puzzle are all in the documentary, but it feels like they could have been fleshed out more.  Watching the documentary, it almost completely resembles the story of Heavenly Creatures which tells of fifteen and sixteen-year-olds Juliet Hulme and Pauline Parker who murdered Pauline’s mother.  The mental illness in both cases is a strange blend of fanaticism and obsession…something that this film failed to fully capture.

Related Links:

Slender Man (2018)

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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