On Wednesday, January 3rd, Sony released the first official trailer for their new horror film, Slender Man. Sounds familiar? It should. The Slender Man, though an entirely fictional entity, sparked a very real attack only a few years ago.
The Slender Man originated right here on the internet, via a creepypasta story created by Victor Surge. The Slender Man is described as a tall, thin, faceless man, with extraordinarily long limbs. The Slender Man’s victims are often children, but instead of killing them, he compels them to kill for him. What Victor Surge created was truly nothing more than a creepy meme. A scary story that was one hundred percent fictional (though there are certain mythologies akin to the Slender Man). But unlike many memes that just die off, Slender Man became a prominent figure in internet culture. He is referenced in multiple games, even having a game of his own. But then it started escalating.
Fan fictions started being written. Photographs and footage started popping up online as supposed proof of the Slender Man’s existence. The Slender Man became the modern-day boogeyman in many ways. I was young at the beginning of Slender Man’s popularity, and I remember having friends showing me footage and pictures, almost obsessed with finding evidence of this creature’s existence. And in 2014, an attack occurred in Wisconsin.
Two girls, both 12 years old, led their friend/classmate (also 12) to a wooded area. One of these girls, with encouragement from the other, proceeded to stab their classmate 19 times. She luckily survived the attack, and when the girls were questioned, they revealed that they only stabbed her in order to please the Slender Man. In 2016, HBO released a documentary titled Beware The Slenderman, telling the story of both the attack and the trials. It’s shocking, confusing, but truthful, and I strongly suggest watching it.
But the HBO documentary isn’t sparking controversy. Sony’s horror film, however, is. Because they have taken this fictional character, and even parts of the actual attack that occurred, and are making it into a blockbuster. Some can’t help but feel that this is disrespectful to the families involved in the real events that transpired, and the father of one of the teens has spoken out. Bill Weier is the father of Anissa Weier, the girl who encouraged the stabbing of their classmate. And when speaking to the Associated Press, he had this to say:
“It’s absurd they want to make a movie like this. It’s popularizing a tragedy is what it’s doing. I’m not surprised, but in my opinion it’s extremely distasteful. All we’re doing is extending the pain all three of these families have gone through.”
Quite frankly, it does feel like Sony is doing just that. Trying to make money off of a very real tragedy that occurred only a few years ago. Had the attack never happened, this film may have sparked a different reaction. Excitement, even. And some are quite excited to see how the film does. But all things considered, many think Sony’s decision to make this film is in very bad taste. Thoughts?
Watch the Slender Man trailer down below.